The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme: A Call for Urgent Reforms
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is a Government / Justice Department Service Primarily for Victims of Crime, when their is a conviction and some cases this is not needed, victims of crime can claim compensation due to the impacts of that crime on the victim.
In the context of Historic Victims of Child Sexual Abuse like myself, many report claiming compensation is taking blood money, because of what us as victims have had to go through, throughout our lives. In my case I decided to apply due to the ongoing costs associated with my recovery and rehabilitation, including One-to-One Trauma Therapy which I have been attending since 2016, Holistic Therapy, Chiropractor & Acupuncture associated to the physical pain associated with trauma and recently having to take my clinical psycharitrary private. It all costs. As a victim I am left with no savings as I spend those all on my recovery and therapy.
These Support Services are essential for keeping me alive and well, but due to the cost of living access to these services are now very limited, so the compensation claim was to have this support in place to recover. I have come a long way, but am still not in the clear.
Understanding the CICA and Its Impact on Survivors
I can only really speak from my own perspective / lived experience of the scheme and well its been a very long and triggering process which puts all the accountability on the victim of the crime to carry our various tasks associated with a claim.
One of the first forms I got was to sign third party authority forms for the CICA, which essentially give them written permission to write to the various professionals & agencies for them to proceed with the claim and assessment process. It sounds simple no?? Well its been far from that…
Then a few months after came letters saying they need more info from my GP and Medical Files, the request stated it was my responsibility to gather the information. They are asking me a victim in recovery who lives with bipolar and a Complex from of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to take this additional stress on.
I raised my concerns but due to the service completely dismissing my views and not hearing me I went to the GP and they actioned the request and send the files off.
Months later a letter comes asking for the info again, saying they never received, The GP Secretary again resent them off. At this stage a formal complaint went in, due to a worsening of my health, made worse by the stress and unreasonable requests the service is making.
Then there came Requests to get reports from Psychs etc, all put on me. This led to a lot of issues another breakdown. Anyway after a lot of stress and over 4 months to get the report finally that happened and was sent off.
I then restarted Therapy after severe suicidal thoughts and wanting to end my life, I have never had any issues with alcohol, and some issues crept in there due to turning to the bottle to drain it all out.
I thought it was done and all over after two years since I started a claim. This morning and we are in year 3 of the claim now, I was written to again for the third time requesting my GP records, they confirmed they had received but that they are not acceptable.
As it stands I honestly don’t think I will be here when an award is finally made, cannot cope any longer with being triggered, my life being turned upside down & these highly unreasonable requests placed on me the victim.
Challenges Faced: A Victim's Lived Experience
There were so called new reforms which have been widely publicised around changes to the system and how they deal with this and impacts on victims. One of the reforms was about Trauma Informed Approaches which essentially ensures were the victims do not have the accountability to collect evidence and organise the whole thing.
I have to question this announcement as this has not been the case for me at all. Having experience of trauma informed care, I would say the service is still broken and not fit for purpose.
We have a human right to a life and this system is making people question their life and whether to continue with all this trauma and triggering, we also want peace and our right to a family life, free of this disruption. I have a disability, I have asked for reasonable adjustments time and time again and these requests have been ignored.
I just want to move on as best as possible, live as much of a fulfilled and enriched life as I can, survivors should not have relive the event and trauma over and over.
Building a Trauma-Informed Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme
Streamlined Communication: Ensure a single point of contact for victims, reducing the burden of dealing with multiple requests and agencies. This central coordinator could facilitate the collection of necessary information, alleviating stress on victims.
Proactive Gathering of Evidence: Implement a system where the CICA takes responsibility for obtaining information directly from relevant professionals and agencies, sparing victims the additional trauma of collecting and submitting evidence themselves.
Trauma-Informed Training: Mandate trauma-informed training for all CICA staff involved in handling cases. This would foster a better understanding of the challenges victims face and ensure a more empathetic and supportive approach throughout the process.
Reasonable Adjustments and Accommodations: Prioritise and implement reasonable adjustments promptly, addressing the specific needs of individuals with disabilities. Ignoring such requests is a violation of basic rights and exacerbates the trauma victims endure.
Timely Case Resolution: Establish strict timelines for case resolution to prevent prolonged stress on victims. This includes setting deadlines for each step of the process, ensuring swift and efficient handling of claims.
Independent Oversight: Introduce an independent oversight body to review and address complaints. This ensures accountability and provides victims with a fair avenue to voice concerns, especially when their views are dismissed by the service.
Holistic Support Services: Recognise the importance of ongoing support services for victims and allocate funds to cover comprehensive therapeutic approaches, including mental health, physical well-being, and any associated costs of recovery.
Regular Review of Reforms: Conduct periodic reviews of the implemented reforms to assess their effectiveness and make adjustments accordingly. This ensures an adaptive system that continuously improves based on real-world experiences.