Government’s victim compensation agency formally apologises to Liberty client after ruling he consented to sexual abuse as a child
08 November 2017
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) has formally apologised to a young man who was groomed and sexually exploited from the age of 13, after it ruled he had “consented” to the abuse and denied him compensation.
CICA’s Chief Executive Carole Oatway has written to the man – known as HND – apologising for the way his case was handled and confirming that he is eligible for compensation.
She states: “I am firmly of the view that you are eligible for compensation. It is clear that advantage was taken of your age and vulnerability for the purpose of sexual abuse.”
HND was sexually abused by a string of older men from the age of 13. Twenty-one men were convicted of a range of offences against him, including sexual activity with a child, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and meeting a child after sexual grooming.
When his family applied to CICA for compensation on his behalf, the application was rejected. The authority ruled HND had consented to the sexual assaults he suffered.
HND, represented by Liberty, appealed against the decisions – and the case was due to be heard by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal over a week during November 2017.
However, following further submissions from Liberty, CICA revised its position and now agrees HND did not consent to his abuse.
The concession comes within days of CICA issuing new guidelines on grooming cases to its staff.
Liberty, Barnardo’s and Victim Support believe the guidelines will help to protect victims’ rights, but have warned they can only interpret a sub-standard system. The groups have called for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme as a whole to be reviewed with respect to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.
HND’s father said: “We are thankful CICA has changed its stance – but it should never have come to this. Having spent years coming to terms with what happened to him and that it was not his fault, my son was told by a state body that it was.
“Child victims deserve better. We hope this decision, and the change in guidance, will help the many others who have suffered unnecessarily under this broken system.”
Debaleena Dasgupta, Lawyer for Liberty and HND’s solicitor, said: “CICA’s recognition that HND was not responsible for having been sexually abused is extremely welcome. But it was only at the Eleventh hour they conceded these appeals – with HND facing the prospect of having to give evidence about his abuse to prove he was a victim even where those responsible had pleaded guilty.
“HND should be extremely proud of having triggered changes that will hopefully stop other children and young people going through this. None of this would have been possible without his tenacity and strength.
“But the Government cannot stop here. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme as a whole must now be reviewed and amended to properly support survivors of rape and abuse.”
Contact the Liberty press office on 020 7378 3656 / 07973831128 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
- The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is a government-funded scheme designed to compensate blameless victims of violent crime in Great Britain. It is run by an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. Victims can apply for compensation and this is assessed against a set of rules.
- CICA is an executive authority sponsored by the Ministry of Justice that runs the Criminal Justice Compensation Scheme. It is independent of the Government and based in Scotland. The scheme is run throughout England, Wales and Scotland. There is a different process for compensation in Northern Ireland.
- A Freedom of Information request by Victim Support has revealed that, since the scheme started in 2012, 693 child victims of sexual abuse have been refused compensation. The authorities do not state how many of these were denied because they ‘consented’ to their sexual relationship, but state that they were denied based on the fact that the child was ‘not a direct victim of a crime of violence’.