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ACSO responds to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) 'Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme Review' consultation

Posted on Wed, 03/08/2022

The Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) has responded to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) consultation reviewing the 'Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.'

Cara Elliott, policy and public affairs advisor at ACSO, says: "Current rules, where applicants are not eligible for compensation if they have an unspent conviction, are profoundly unfair; and while no amount of money can take away the trauma that victims of violent crime endure, it can go some way to acknowledging the pain and suffering experienced."

"As a result of the exclusionary rule, thousands of victims of violent crime have been made ineligible for compensation. Since the last consultation in October 2020, more than 13,000 victims have had their claims rejected, or around one in two of those who claimed. This means that many are not only being denied a recognition of the harm done to them, but also the practical support in recovering the full compensation which can contribute to the recovery process. To ensure victims do not continue to needlessly suffer, the MoJ must provide a response to this consultation or at least set a timetable as to when we may expect a response. 

"ACSO firmly believes that reform should include discretion, in all cases, as to whether and or to what extent to reduce compensation in the case of an applicant with unspent criminal convictions. Such a change would mean no applications were automatically rejected and would constitute a significantly more just approach to societal compensation which recognises the merits of each individual case."

Elliott also adds that "the scheme is characterised by lengthy delays to the processing of claims, a lack of clear communication between victims and case handlers, and the need to appeal many of the decisions. Moreover, for legal representatives acting on behalf of victims, the time and resources involved in pursuing compensation often outweighs the financial return. Owing to this lack of commercial viability, a number of law firms commit to helping victims of violence pursue compensation only because they believe it is morally right to do so."

ACSO members can read the full submission in the members' area of the website.