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MINISTRY OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCES REVIEW OF COMPENSATION RULES ON SEXUAL OFFENCES – a VICTORY for grassroots campaigners!
“Nobody should be made to feel worthless as you do when you get a compensation refusal letter.”
The announcement 9-10 September (see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45462128) from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) that there will be a review of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme as it applies to people who were sexually abused when they were children, is an important victory and augers well for future applicants. Victims, women and men, have bravely publicized their case as part of the struggle with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) which had turned them down. Such campaigning at the grassroots must be credited for winning this review.
The MOJ will now consult and then consider, in claims for abuse suffered as children, extending the time limit, and revoking the punitive refusals to those who have criminal convictions. But there are further rules and practices that disproportionately deny compensation to rape survivors, such as: delays in reporting to the police, pulling out before a prosecution is concluded, and brutally cross-examining vulnerable applicants at hearings.
Over the past 18 months WAR has brought together a network of survivors across the UK. We hold regular online meetings to discuss tactics based on a variety of experiences. Accountable lawyers assist with claims and challenge the rules. Survivors have described the impacts of being denied compensation. We have put our collective demands in writing to the government, and secured publicity on social media and in the print and broadcast media, to build pressure for change. Survivors use a model letter to enlist help from their MPs.
A year ago we were informed by the MOJ that there was no plan to review these rules, other than the one raised by large charities and MPs, that the CICA refusals must end which assume that underage victims consented to sex, rather than having been coerced and groomed by adult abusers. This was rape and was not to be dismissed as consent!
We continued to campaign. After winning several important appeals, on 24 July we had news of a landmark judgment. The Appeal Court upheld a claimant’s right to compensation, who had been previously refused. Under the Same Roof Rule, if you were abused before October 1979 and lived with your attacker at the time, you were not entitled to compensation.
The claimant was identified as JT, who suffered serious sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather many years ago. He repeatedly abused her between the ages of four and 17, and was convicted in 2012 of eight offences including rape and sexual assault and was imprisoned for 14 years. This was the first time a court upheld a claimant’s right to compensation despite this Rule, which will now be deleted. Those who were attacked before 1979 will now be entitled to compensation.
This was won because survivors had been determined to fight. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) recommended in its interim report in April that the Same Roof Rule should be scrapped – after dozens of survivors and victims’ organisations gave evidence. Other official bodies followed suit.
Alissa Moore, who waived her anonymity, was refused compensation for rape by her father, while her sister, whose abuse continued after 1979, won an award. Alissa Moore has campaigned together with WAR, she said in July:
“I’m overwhelmed by this case. But it’s not just this rule – many people are turned down under other rules, like those with unspent convictions. The whole rule book needs rewriting. Nobody should be made to feel worthless as you do when you get a CICA refusal letter.”
Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape said of the MOJ’s announced review:
“We are thrilled that our collective efforts are paying off. We encourage everyone to fight for all the other applicants who have not won yet, and press the MOJ to abolish all the unjust rules. This includes women like Kim Mitchell who waived anonymity after she was denied compensation because of a minor criminal conviction last year. Now 36, she was denied compensation for sexual assault by a teacher when she was eight, which has had a significant impact on her mental health. Compensation, which is an expression of the community’s support for her against her abuser, would help her recover. She was already punished for her minor crime by the criminal justice system, why did CICA have to punish her again? This undervalues the public service she did in getting her abuser locked up – she had to report it three times before he was prosecuted, and she won a longer sentence on appeal.” [Read her story here] She is still fighting for compensation.]
Cuts in the compensation scheme were last made in 2012, after the government decided to save £50 million by tightening the rules. A hostile environment for rape survivors.
WAR, endorsed by over 40 organisations, lawyers and other professionals calls on the government (www.againstrape.net/compensation/openletter) to tackle all the discriminatory rules suffered by victims of sexual crimes, whether as children or adults.
We invite all survivors, organisations and agencies to urgently lobby their MP and the MOJ, so that all survivors get justice. Contact us if you’d like to be in touch and help.
Women Against Rape, 17 September 2018
Great Independent article from July, on the struggle of Kim Mitchell to get the compensation she is entitled to. She was refused because she had a minor conviction. This article also quotes WAR, and is a key demand we have put to the government, demanding they change this among other discrimination in the CICA rules.
Victims of sexual violence win Appeal Court victory
A landmark Appeal Court ruling on 24 July 2018 has reversed decades of injustice, upholding for the first time a claimant’s right to compensation even though she lived under the same roof as her attacker at the time.
The Appeal Court decided that the woman, identified as JT, who suffered years of serious sexual abuse by her stepfather when she a child, was entitled to compensation. The woman had been denied the right to damages because she shared a home with him at the time. Another victim of her stepfather who didn’t live with him did previously received compensation.
JT’s stepfather repeatedly abused her between the ages of four and 17. He was convicted in 2012 of eight offences, including rape and sexual assault, and imprisoned for 14 years.
Until now the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), which pays damages to victims of violent crime, has refused victims like her any payout because of the unfair same roof rule which denied compensation to victims who lived in the same home as their attacker before 1979 Hundreds of victims – mostly raped by fathers and husbands – will now be able to get redress.
The judges said the so-called “same-roof” rule, is “incompatible” with human rights laws.
Lord Justice Leggatt, who heard the appeal with Sir Terence Etherton and Lady Justice Sharp, said the rule was “arbitrary and unfair”. He said:
“A scheme under which compensation is awarded to [the other victim] but denied to JT is obviously unfair.
“It is all the more unfair when the reason for the difference in treatment – that JT was living as a member of the same family as her abuser, whereas [the other victim] was not – is something over which JT had no control and is a feature of her situation which most people would surely regard as making her predicament and suffering even worse.”
The reason given for the rule at the time was that abusers should not benefit from compensation paid to the victims they lived with, particularly in domestic violence. After years of criticism and campaigns, including by Women Against Rape, the law was altered in 1979 so that any future victims of such domestic crimes could claim compensation; but the change was not applied retrospectively.
Other reforms were made in 2012 following the government’s stated intention to save £50million from the Scheme. The same-roof rule was maintained because scrapping could increase the number of claims.
Alissa Moore, who waived her anonymity, was refused compensation while her sister, whose abuse continued after 1979, made a successful claim, and has campaigned together with WAR said today:
“I’m overwhelmed by this case. But it’s not just this rule – many people are turned down under other rules, like those with unspent convictions. The whole rule book needs rewriting. Nobody should be made to feel worthless as you do when you get a CICA refusal letter. We already were made to feel worthless our whole lives.”
Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape hailed this case as:
“A breakthrough for all those who have suffered horrific sexual abuse before 1979 and had been denied official acknowledgement and damages to help them recover. Most of them are victims of rape by fathers or older brothers who were unable to escape or report it until years later. Even though many had taken the enormous step to get their attacker investigated and convicted, the government continues to deny them compensation. We are really pleased the campaigning has paid off.”
WAR, backed by over 40 organisations, lawyers and other professionals, calls on the government to now tackle all the other injustices by CICA suffered by people who have been raped or abused, whether as children or as adults. (see http://againstrape.net/open-letter-for-compensation-to-secretary-of-justice)
JT’s case was brought in England and Wales. There are other challenges to the rule in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse recommended in its interim report in April that the rule be scrapped.
PRESS RELEASE . . . PRESS RELEASE . . . PRESS RELEASE . . . PRESS
Women Against Rape says hundreds of vulnerable victims of rape and other sexual offences are denied statutory help as a result of rules designed to exclude as many victims as possible from compensation.
The new figures we release today come from an analysis of victims we helped to apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) or to appeal a refusal in the past five years (2012-2017). We found that victims often cannot apply without help through complex and rigid rules, and that many are so traumatised by the CICA refusal that they don’t appeal.
Of 75 applicants, 20% were refused any award. In most cases the refusals were made despite the attacker having been jailed for the rape. In other cases, women were unable to get their attacker jailed and this was used to refuse them compensation, despite CICA needing a lower standard of proof (on the balance of probabilities) than that required for a criminal conviction (beyond reasonable doubt).
In half these cases, the rules had been set by Parliament, leaving CICA officials no discretionary power, whatever the circumstances. These rules are:
1. “Same Roof Rule”: Victims raped before 1 October 1979 by someone living in their household are not entitled to compensation. Five (6.6%) of the women we worked with were refused under the Same Roof rule. Nationally, 174 such claimants have been refused since 2012. (FOI question, 2017.) These are truly distressing refusals; mostly of people who were raped as children by their own father. Most of them recently got their attacker jailed, after years of suffering, but despite this are still denied compensation.
Alissa Moore, who waived her anonymity, was denied an award because she moved out of the family home before October 1979, thus ending her father’s abuse. She said that when she was refused an award in 2015, “I was so crushed and shocked, it took me a couple of years to recover.”
Another woman’s Same Roof case is listed for the Court of Appeal on 13-14 June.
2. Victims with criminal convictions are often refused compensation – 11% of applicants we helped had been refused or suffered a substantial reduction of compensation under this rule. Nationally, figures obtained by Harriet Agerholm of The Independent show at least 398 victims of sex abuse have been refused payments since January 2015 because they had been convicted of a crime.
Kim Mitchell waived her anonymity when she was refused an award some months ago, for sexual assault when she was eight by her teacher. This refusal was based on an unspent conviction – she was given a community sentence for threatening her employer who had withheld a substantial amount of wages due. She said, “I didn’t commit a crime aged eight. The disbelief and injustice I faced has been just as traumatizing as the assault itself.”
Among other cuts to the Scheme in 2012, Parliament made rules even more punitive. Now, applicants can’t get compensation if they have any unspent criminal conviction, even for minor offences such as not paying a TV license, underage drinking, or a minor altercation – offences not serious enough to send one to prison. This is punishing very vulnerable victims who were raped or sexually assaulted as children, like Kim Mitchell. It is unjust to deny compensation for the violent crime of rape for such minor misdeeds. Rape victims are punished twice: first by criminal proceedings against us, and then by the compensation scheme. Imagine if everyone with a minor conviction was suddenly refused NHS treatment, housing or schooling!
An interim report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse released in April recommended that the Same Roof Rule be abolished and that criminal convictions resulting from abuse should not be used to deny compensation.
In the other half of our cases, victims fell foul of CICA’S harsh discretionary and biased decision-making. Echoing Theresa May’s hostile environment for immigrants, decisions at CICA have similarly become less compassionate, under the 2012 drive to cut costs. So much for government claims to support victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Rules that give CICA wide discretion are often used in a discriminatory way against victims of sexual crime, such as:
• being deemed to have consented to sex with an adult man despite being well below the age of consent (a 2017 campaign forced them to stop this);
• not applying within the two-year limit;
• pulling out before trial (called “not co-operating with a prosecution”);
• being disbelieved, sometimes on the basis of hostile police evidence following a careless or biased investigation.
Last year Dr Olivia Smith, of Anglia Ruskin University, published research having interviewed 25 independent sexual violence advisers (ISVAs) who had helped thousands of rape victims. Like us, Smith found that eligibility rules “impact more on vulnerable survivors.”
Immoral conduct like soliciting should not be used to reject claims, but some of the ISVAs Smith spoke to said this regularly occurs. Sex workers are among those who face social stigma, including at CICA. This echoes our experience that prejudiced CICA officers can unfairly deny victims of violence an award. While some victims are considered blameless, others are held partly responsible for being attacked, labelled “bad conduct” by CICA. This is just victim-blaming, with judgements dividing women into “good” and “bad” victims. Nobody should be blamed for sexual violence against them.
WAR’s campaign for change represents hundreds of victims across the UK, and their supporters. Spokesperson Lisa Longstaff said,
“There is ample evidence of a pattern of discrimination against victims of sex crimes. We can’t allow this institutional injustice to continue. In campaigning together, survivors learn about each other’s cases, make connections and find they are not alone in having been refused. We spoke out when Parliament harshened the rules in 2012. Now it must revoke them.”
We win 95% of claims on first application or on appeal, but many women have nobody to help them. WAR wrote to the government in July raising five punitive rules under which victims of rape are unjustly refused compensation. The MOJ replied that it has no plan to address these issues. However, last year they backed down following a public outcry after five national charities publicised that CICA had denied compensation to over 700 people raped when they were under 16, claiming they had consented, despite being under the legal age of consent.
In the age of #MeToo and #Time’s Up social media campaigns, government claims to care about sexual and domestic violence are not credible. We have sent an Open Letter signed by over 20 organisations and over 40 lawyers, academics and other individuals calling on government to ensure compensation is no longer denied to victims of rape and other violence.
NOTE to Editors: Since 1964, CICA has administered State payments to victims of crime, providing cash help according to their injuries. Given that the conviction rate for reported rape is just 6%, compensation may be the only official acknowledgement available to most victims. Official acknowledgement is vital for healing and future wellbeing. The money can help with costs resulting from injury, for example, specialist health treatments. CICA’s total spending has dropped significantly – from £440m in 2012 to £143m last year. [Source: The One Show, BBC TV, 20 March 2018]
1. The Rule was overturned but was not made retrospective for crimes that occurred before 1 October 1979.
2. The introduction to the online guidance for the 2012 Scheme says it is to compensate “blameless victims of violent crime”.
Recent cases in which WAR assisted victims to appeal and to speak out
Kim Mitchell was refused compensation for sexual abuse by her teacher when she was eight. CICA said her minor unspent conviction made her ineligible. On review, CICA upheld its refusal.
Alissa Moore, whose father was jailed in 2015 for 24 years for multiple child rape, was refused compensation as the crimes were before 1 October 1979 when they lived in the same house (‘Same Roof’ rule). Her sister whose abuse continued after 1 October 1979 won compensation.
Ms A, now in her 50s had been raped at age 13 by her adult brother, and she bore a severely disabled child. Years later (after their mother died) she reported it, and on DNA evidence the man got a 25 year sentence. She was refused compensation as they briefly lived in the same house at the time of the rape (‘Same Roof’ rule). An appeal upheld the refusal.
In 2016 WAR gave evidence in a path-breaking judicial review that overturned a 40% reduction made to a woman who had pulled out before the trial of her rapist husband under pressure. She had been jailed for perverting the course of justice for what the CPS called a ‘false retraction’. CICA had ruled that she failed to cooperate with the prosecution by retracting her truthful complaint of rape. The Guardian reported, ‘“We hope the CICA will accept the significant trauma this crime has caused,” said David Malone, the barrister, who acted pro bono, along with Adrian Waterman QC and solicitor Mike Hayward at Woodfines.’ He said the case clarified the law for CICA and ‘…Never again should the CICA put victims in the same position.’ However, the judge was unable to reinstate a further 30% reduction for two minor driving convictions in the traumatic months after her release from prison.
In 2015 WAR represented Ms B at a judicial review to challenge judgements by the police and the CICA appeal panel dismissing rape as ‘rough sex’. She had suffered injuries from the rape. The judge upheld her right to compensation, and sent it back to CICA for another hearing, but she was too traumatised to continue and withdrew.
A girl with mental health problems aged 13 was raped by an adult man who plied her with vodka. She had been deemed by the CICA to have consented, although she was below the legal age of consent and he had been convicted of giving alcohol to a minor. At her appeal the police gave evidence against her, and she was cross examined aggressively by the CICA lawyer. She was suicidal. We made a formal complaint. With the help of Duncan Lewis solicitors this refusal was overturned at judicial review, and she finally won an award.
A young woman raped by a cab driver was denied 30% of her compensation award as she had been later prosecuted for driving while marginally over the drink-drive limit. With our help on appeal the reduction was lowered to 20%.
Ms C who delayed applying to CICA until the trial process was over had been denied compensation because it took her over CICA’s two year limit. It is common for rape trials to take over two years to conclude. Police generally advise women to wait, as defence lawyers often raise compensation as a motive to lie. WAR helped her appeal, and she won.
Ms D whose domestic rape had not been investigated properly complained to the police. Unusually, the complaint was upheld. She was refused compensation on grounds that the CPS had ruled there was insufficient evidence to take it to trial. On appeal, she argued that the CICA is supposed to apply a lower standard of proof than the CPS and courts. She won on appeal.
We helped Ms E to fill in the application form, as she was too traumatised to do it. She won an award. Her foster father ran a children’s home, and had raped her over many years as a young child. She said, “Why do I have to prove myself to CICA, when my rapist was convicted?”
Ms F was raped by her date. She did not report it at the time as she assumed she would not be believed. She came forward when he was convicted of violence against two other women. But the investigating police officer made sexual advances to her, and she was too traumatised to continue, so she withdrew from the investigation. When she applied to CICA they refused her any award because she had failed to co-operate with the prosecution. We helped her appeal, but our written submission in her support did not succeed. She got nothing.
Please contact WAR to arrange interviews at email@example.com
www.againstrape.net Crossroads Women’s Centre, 25 Wolsey Mews, London NW5 2DX Tel: 020 7482 2496 Fax: 020 7267 7297
|Rt Hon. David Gauke
Secretary of State for Justice
6 June 2018
Dear David Gauke
We collectively represent the experience and demands of thousands of survivors of rape, domestic violence and sex crimes suffered as children or adults.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is discriminating against victims of sexual crimes – even in some cases where our attacker was sent to prison. Winning justice and compensation is official recognition and a crucial step to recovery. It is particularly important for those whose attacker evaded prosecution – the vast majority of rape and domestic violence survivors.
There are several ways in which the Scheme should be updated. We appeal to your government to urgently change the following rules and practices:
1. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) denies compensation to victims who delayed reporting to the police – Paragraph 23.
2. Victims below 16, the legal age of consent, are denied compensation.
3. Living under the ‘same roof’ with your attacker before October 1979 disqualifies you from receiving compensation – Paragraph 19.
4. Victims of rape who have criminal convictions are denied compensation – Paragraphs 25-27.
5. Time limit – Paragraphs 87-89.
6. Victims have to co-operate with the prosecution as far as reasonably possible – Paragraph 23.
7. There is no legal aid and unrepresented survivors can face hostile and upsetting questioning by CICA lawyers.
Compensation is often the only official acknowledgement of rape we get, given the low conviction rate of 6%. An award can speed recovery, as many women suffer catastrophic mental and physical injuries. Patients struggle to get treatment from the depleted NHS and dwindling therapeutic services – many face years on a waiting list and rationed appointments. In addition, we suffer life changing impacts such as losing a job, eviction, marital breakdown, being unable to cope with children, fear of public transport . . .
The basic award for rape is a mere £11,000, and this does not stretch far. Amounts should be increased, and decisions speeded up. There is a minefield of rules which put people off, as described above. Most don’t even know the Scheme exists or applies to them.
signed so far by the following organisations:
and the following individuals:
Adrian Williamson QC, Keating Chambers
and 24 other individuals
Add your Organisation or law firm by emailing us –
Please return signed to Women Against Rape via email firstname.lastname@example.org
www.againstrape.net Twitter: #AgainstRape Phone: 020 7482 2496
 ‘Hundreds of sexual assault victims refused compensation for minor convictions’ Independent; ‘Rape victims denied compensation for petty convictions’ – Guardian and ‘Hundreds of rape victims denied compensation’ Scottish Herald
Sign this important petition against the ‘Same Roof rule’ – which prevents victims getting compensation if they lived in the same house as their attacker before 1 October 1979
Please adjust accordingly and send this letter to your local MP (find your MP’s name and contact details here)
[your address or email]
Dear [insert full name of MP]
As your constituent I urge you to take action to update the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme for victims of crime, in particular for victims of rape and other sexual violence.
I am part of a grassroots campaign of survivors who are being treated extremely unfairly by the Scheme. We are working with Women Against Rape to spell out the main ways in which the Scheme discriminates against us as women and children victims of crime.
My experience of claiming compensation was…[insert one/two paragraphs – OPTIONAL].
Winning justice and compensation is official recognition and a crucial step to recovery. We appeal to you to support our campaign to change the following rules and practices:
- The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) denies compensation to victims who delayed reporting to the police – Paragraph 23.
As you may know, rape can be so traumatic to the victim that they may be unable to speak about it for some years. Many of us also experience shame, and pressure from others to stay silent.
- Living under the ‘same roof’ with your attacker before October 1979 disqualifies you from receiving compensation – Paragraph 19.
Before 1979 the rule was that if your attacker lived in the same household as you, you were not entitled to compensation. It denies compensation to victims even those whose rapist was convicted. The excuse was that your attacker might benefit from your award. In 1979 that rule was abolished, but it was not made retrospective. Therefore, if you were raped before 1979, the discredited rule continues to apply to you. Between 2008-2013, for example, 502 victims of rape were denied an award under this discredited rule.
Since the Savile scandal more victims raped as children were encouraged to come forward, but are then denied compensation. A significant proportion of all rapes are committed by family members, and these crimes are among the most abusive and injurious. Retrospective payments must be awarded to those denied.
- Victims of rape who have criminal convictions are denied compensation – Paragraphs 25-27.
Since 2015, at least 385 victims of sexual violence had been refused because of a conviction. Convictions for non-violent and minor offences, including theft, drink-driving or an unpaid TV licence are routinely used to deny victims an award. The CICA claims that the state having once prosecuted us nullifies any claim we have for compensation as it was a drain on public resources. Instead, they should value the public service we performed of bringing a rapist to justice, protecting everyone’s safety. In any case, they punish us twice – first for the crime that we committed, and secondly for the crime against us. This affects some of the most vulnerable victims, penalising those who may have been criminalised as a result of the rape trauma they have endured. Victims often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to soothe their pain, and then get convicted. Sex workers face moralistic judgements on their ‘character and conduct’, even those without criminal convictions. We don’t want divisive moral judgements by the CICA as either good or bad victims.
- Time limit – Paragraphs 87-89.
There is a two year time limit after the crime to make a claim to the CICA, or if it occurred when the victim was a child, two years from our 18th birthday. This rule disregards the common delays and pressures we face in rape investigations and trials. Sexual crimes take a notoriously long time to investigate and get to and through court. Also, the police advise victims not to claim until the end of a trial as defence barristers often argue that compensation is a motive for a false allegation. Such delays may put your claim out of time through no fault of your own. Secondly, the trauma of rape and the prosecution process (often called ‘the second rape’) prevents many victims from applying within two years. The time limit must be extended to at least five years, longer for those raped as children.
- Victims have to co-operate with the prosecution as far as reasonably possible – Paragraph 23.
WAR has worked with victims who were denied compensation despite being sexually propositioned by their investigating officer, and with others who got dismissive sexist or racist treatment from the police. Yet these flagrant abuses of power were not considered by the CICA as legitimate reasons for victims to withdraw from the prosecution. Also, if the police are hostile and give evidence against us getting an award, the CICA invariably values their word over the victim’s.
- There is no legal aid and unrepresented survivors can face extremely hostile and upsetting questioning by CICA lawyers.
It can be even worse than in criminal courts – with questions like, what we wore and why we didn’t scream. CICA appeals which are held in private, evading public scrutiny, have fallen behind updated protection for vulnerable witnesses in criminal and other courts. The CICA internal guidance for questioning vulnerable witnesses is neither public nor transparent and evades legal challenge.
- Victims below 16, the legal age of consent, are denied compensation.
So far over 700 girls since 2012 were refused compensation as the CICA decided they had ‘consented to sex’, even where their attacker had been prosecuted in criminal court. So the rape of children as defined in law is not necessarily illegal for the CICA. How can the CICA be allowed to contradict the criminal law in this way? Embarrassing publicity recently forced the government to think again about definitions of rape of children. But they only told the CICA to take ‘grooming’ into account. Not all girls who were raped by older men were first groomed and therefore the CICA can still say they consented.
As you may be aware, compensation is often the only official acknowledgement of rape we get, given the low conviction rate of 6%.
In addition, an award can speed recovery practically, as many women suffer catastrophic mental and physical injuries: years of suicidal thoughts, sleeplessness, substance abuse and the inability to relate to people. Those with mental health problems struggle to get treatment from the depleted NHS and dwindling therapeutic services — many face years on a waiting list and rationed appointments. In addition, we suffer life changing impacts such as losing a job, eviction, marital breakdown, being unable to cope with children, fear of public transport . . .
The basic award for rape is a mere £11,000, and this does not stretch far. Amounts should be increased, and decisions speeded up. There is a minefield of rules which put people off, as described above. Most don’t even know the Scheme exists or applies to them.
Please contact me urgently to discuss what you can do to help. We aim to gather a group of MPs to take action with us. Please support this campaign so that victims of sexual crimes are no longer blamed for an attack we suffered, and get the urgent help and acknowledgement we need in order to recover.
Please also copy your reply to Women Against Rape (email@example.com) with whom I am working against gross injustice.
[put your name]
Copy to Women Against Rape
 Independent, 28 October 2017 Hundreds of sexual assault victims refused compensation for minor convictions; See also Rape victims denied compensation for petty convictions – Guardian and Hundreds of rape victims denied compensation in Scottish Herald
Alissa Moore, a rape survivor we are working with in our campaign for compensation got her MP Iain Stewart to raise the issues in Parliament on 23 Nov. WAR was quoted and thanked for our work. Alissa was raped from aged 7-15 by her father, yet she was refused compensation because they lived in the same house (known as the ‘same roof rule’). We urged the MP to make a broader case about victims turned down under other bad rules – and he did speak about victims with criminal records and children deemed to have consented – which is a victory!
Read the speech by the MP and the government reply here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-11-23/debates/C81A68B2-0DD4-43B8-8F9A-BEF49B6373FA/SameRoofRuleFamilialSexualAbuseCases
For other legal challenges and campaigning to change the Same Roof Rule, see work by lawyer Andrew Perriman at Teesside Law Clinic.
Scottish Herald, 4 November 2017
HUNDREDS of rape victims are being denied compensation after committing ‘minor’ criminal offences, The Herald can reveal.
It is estimated that at least 500 women have seen their claims rejected by the UK Government‘s Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) since 2010.
The scheme, which is funded with public money, is designed to give financial payments to victims of violent crime.
But under its rules, the CICA must turn down claims for anyone given a community sentence by the courts.
The policy has been described as “cruel” by campaigners for rape victims while a leading lawyer described it as a cynical attempt to save money.
Christina McHugh, 27, was raped by a family friend when she was just 11 and went on to suffer many years of mental health problems as a result of the crime.
However, when she later applied for compensation, she was refused and told she was not entitled to the payment of up to £27,000 because of an unspent conviction.
“I was a kid when I was raped and the fact hundreds of women are turned down is completely disrespectful to what happened to us,” she said.
“People could have something brutal happen to them, but they do not get compensation because of a conviction that is completely unrelated. It is ridiculous.”
Prior to 2012 CICA rules said anyone claiming could have a compensation award stopped or reduced if a conviction made their character “inappropriate”.
But the powers of discretion were removed in 2012 and the numbers of victims missing out on compensation has risen since then.
At least 500 women have had their claims rejected since 2010, including several dozen in Scotland.
The organisation Women Against Rape (WAR) is appealing for those affected by CICA rules to join a campaign to have them changed.
Lisa Longstaff, spokeswoman for WAR, said “CICA don’t seem to be taking account of the pain and suffering that sexual offences cause people.
“It is very cruel to deny women who have suffered such a serious assault, on the basis of often very minor convictions.”
Ms McHugh was raped in 1997 by James McCracken, who was convicted of the crime in 2015 after the testimony of two other women who were sexually assaulted by him in similar circumstances was used in corroboration under the Moorov Doctrine.
Three years before making a claim to CICA, Ms McHugh was convicted of assault after intervening in a fracas in the street outside her home.
A man with a pole was advancing on two women, who she claims she was trying to protect. She was later convicted of assaulting the man.
However, in a letter, CICA said Ms McHugh’s conviction was unspent and so she was not entitled to the payment of up to £27,000 to which she might otherwise be entitled.
“I am therefore unable to make an award of compensation… please note I have no discretion,” an official at the agency wrote. “I am sorry to send what I know will be disappointing news.”
Ms McHugh is attempting to appeal the decision but has been told her bid is unlikely to be successful.
Ms McHugh said she felt her conviction was unfair, but had accepted it and completed an 18-month community payback order.
She is now backing a change in the CICA rules. “If these are the rules, I want them changed for other women like me,” she said.
Peter Garsden, a partner with Manchester-based Simpson Millar, and president of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, said abuse can leave people vulnerable, with mental health problems and drug or alcohol additions. All of these issues can lead people into conflict with the law, he said.
“These rules deny a lot off vulnerable, worthy individuals justice from the government,” he said.
“It is frankly appalling that the CICA want to blame the victims of abuse when the convictions were obtained a number of years after the offence they suffered.
“Particularly when people were children at the time a crime was committed against them they were blameless.
“Sexual abuse can leave people with a distrust of authority, often people blot out their experiences with addiction to alcohol or drugs, while others have mental health problems brought on by the abuse.
“CICA is passing judgement on the victims of abuse which is very unfair and unjust.”
Mr Garsden added: “I have been involved in these cases for 25 years and the scheme has got progressively more mean and unfair.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said:”There are criteria to ensure that taxpayers’ money is not paid to applicants who may have caused distress, loss or injury to another person, or committed another criminal offence, and as a result incurred costs through police investigations or court proceedings.
“As part of our work to develop a strategy for victims, we will be examining the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. This work will also incorporate recommendations from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.”