Compensation and support for victims of crime - Victim Support's response
The Government's consultation Compensation and support for victims of crime sets out the Government's plans for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) and has implications for the recognition and support which victims may expect in the future. Last year, over 12 million adults were victims of crime1. As anyone can become a victim of crime, the issues raised in the consultation are, potentially, of relevance to every member of society.
For many victims of crime, compensation is the only form of recognition that they will receive. According to Government figures, only 3% of all crimes reach court. If a crime is not solved, help from voluntary organisations - such as Victim Support - and the possibility of getting criminal injuries compensation are the only recognition or services that a victim will receive.
The Government spends less than £250 million2 each year on services and support for victims. By contrast, the total bill for the criminal justice system for 2002/2003 was over £11.5 billion. This means that for every pound spent on dealing with crime, only two pence is spent on victims.
Victim Support believes that criminal injuries compensation is essential because:
- crime victims should not be left to suffer alone
- victims of crime experience particular distress because their suffering is caused by the deliberate act of another person. An element of this distress is a sense of being let down by society as a whole. Compensation by the state should help to address this, by acting as symbolic support.
- crime can have serious financial consequences for its victims. Many people suffer long-term hardship. Compensation can help with an individual's recovery, including reducing financial hardship caused by the crime.
Each year, we help around 20,000 people to claim compensation. This represents about a quarter of all applicants. The support we provide ranges from information and help with filling out a form to handling the submitted claim. As well as dealing with the practicalities, we also understand that claiming compensation can be a stressful and distressing process for victims. A claim can force the victim to relive unpleasant memories, often over a prolonged period of time. Victim Support can help people to deal with this. The service is provided free of charge. We receive no dedicated funding to support this work.
1. Crime in England & Wales: quarterly update to September 2003, Home Office statistical bulletin March 2004
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