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IICSA update: Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme Review - additional consultation 2023


Recommendation 18 of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) related to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (‘CICS’ or ‘the Scheme’). In particular, IICSA recommended that the CICS should be amended to:

  1. Include other forms of child sexual abuse, including online-facilitated sexual abuse;
  2. Amend the rule on unspent convictions so that applicants with unspent convictions are not automatically excluded where offences are likely to be linked to the circumstances of their sexual abuse as a child; and
  3. Increase the time limit for child sexual abuse applications so that applicants have seven years to apply from (a) the date the offence was reported to the police or (b) the age of 18, where the offence was reported while the victim was a child. In either circumstance, the claims officer’s discretion to extend the time limit remains.

Review of the Scheme

On 18 July 2023 the CICS published their additional consultation (‘the Consultation’) inviting specific views on potential reforms to the scope and time limits of the scheme; the Consultation will continue until 15 September 2023.

Scope of the Scheme

The Scheme in its current form provides that a person “may be eligible for an award under this Scheme if they sustain a criminal injury which is directly attributable to their being a direct victim of a crime of violence committed in a relevant place”. The meaning of “crime of violence” is described as being a crime which involves:

  • a physical attack;
  • any other act or omission of a violent nature which causes physical injury to a person;
  • a threat against a person, causing fear of immediate violence in circumstances which would cause a person of reasonable firmness to be put in such fear;
  • a sexual assault to which a person did not in fact consent; or
  • arson or fire-raising.

Potential Reform of the scope of the Scheme

The two options identified for potential reform are as follows:

  • Amend the definition of a ‘crime of violence’ to include other forms of child sexual abuse, including online-facilitated sexual abuse, as recommended by the Inquiry.
  • Amend the eligibility criteria to add an additional clause to bring non-contact offences with equivalent effect within scope.

However, it remains an option to make no changes to the scope of the current Scheme. The Consultation considers that widening the definition would mean going far beyond the original intention of the Scheme and the current definition already captures a broad range of circumstances. Further, by changing the definition there is a risk that the Scheme would become “operationally unworkable and unaffordable”.

Current time limits

Claims to the Scheme must be made as soon as practicable and within two years of the date of the incident which resulted in the injury.

If the incident was reported when the victim was under the age of 18 then the application must be received on or before their 20th birthday, or within two years after the incident was first reported to the police if the victim reported the incident on or after their 18th birthday. However, claims submitted outside of the relevant time limit are considered where there are “exceptional circumstances” regarding why the victim could not have made their application earlier or where the evidence provided means that extensive enquiries to resolve the claim are not required. For example, if the victim has recently secured convictions against their abuser.

Potential reform on time limits

In view of IICSA’s recommendations, the following options for reform are under consideration:

  • amending the time limit to seven years for child sexual abuse applicants who were children under the age of 18 on the date of the incident giving rise to the injury, as recommended by the Inquiry;
  • amending the time limit to seven years for all applicants;
  • amending the time limit to three years for all applicants who were children under the age of 18 on the date of the incident-giving rise to the injury; or
  • amending the time limit to three years for all applicants.


The Consultation now invites views on each approach and on how the reforms could be implemented.

In circumstances where any of the options for reform are implemented, this could potentially result in an increase in the number of victims of child sexual abuse seeking compensation through the Scheme. This is most likely to impact those victims of child sexual exploitation (‘CSE’) who had previously been prevented from making an application as a result of criminal convictions that arose directly as a consequence of the CSE they had suffered.

However, from the victim’s point of view it may often be the case that the civil claims process remains the most beneficial in terms of the extent of the award they can expect to receive, as this includes not only redress for general damages but also special damages. However, as IICSA demonstrated, the civil claims process can often be traumatic in itself with the need to provide information and evidence far beyond what would be required under the Scheme. Accordingly, claims volumes may remain static for some time and it remains to be seen how any amendments to the Scheme will impact on the extent to which civil claims are still pursued.

For more information, please contact:

Patrick Williams - Associate

Email: PatrickWilliams@keoghs.co.uk

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