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Published On: Fri, Aug 18th, 2017

Victims of child sex abuse being denied compensation because of cruel time limits

UK Victims of historical sex abuse are being denied thousands of pounds in criminal injuries compensation because of cruel time limits on claims.

Children who were victims of sexual abuse have just two years after they reach their 18th birthday to make a claim for compensation, even though they may still be struggling to come to terms with what happened and not ready to relive their experience.

Campaigners are urging the government to change the regulations and remove the current two-year timeframe to give survivors of child abuse the compensation they deserve.

photo/Claim Accident Services

Mark Hunter, a campaign supporter and personal injury solicitor, says the system needs to change.

“Victims of historical sexual abuse are often unable to talk about their experiences for many years, never mind having to deal with making a criminal injuries compensation claim.

“The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority has imposed a very narrow framework and the current time limit is very cruel. It puts tremendous pressure on the victim to share the harrowing details of their abuse before they may be fully ready to do so.

“Compensation isn’t something that goes through the mind of victims dealing with abuse. In fact many victims of historical sex abuse are unaware they can even claim criminal injuries compensation.”

Peter Saunders, founder of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said: “This is deeply unfair and prejudiced. Victims feel shame, embarrassment and guilt, and sex abuse often erodes or destroys people’s self-esteem.

“To go down the route of obtaining justice or compensation takes some doing and people can feel very intimidated.

“Some victims don’t feel they deserve a payment after what’s happened to them and setting a time limit just makes it worse.

“Sex abuse is an area of criminality that remains taboo and is very much swept under the carpet. This policy reinforces that.”

Nick French, 45, was molested as a teenager by his stepdad Gary Moscroft and complained to police about the abuse in 1987, when he was 15.

At the time, Moscroft, now 78, was given a police caution, but in January 2015 he was jailed for ten years after Mr French went back to the police, as he couldn’t bottle it up any longer.

Yet when he applied for criminal injuries compensation, he was told he was not entitled to any because he had not made a claim before he was 20.

“You don’t suddenly turn 18 and think, ‘Oh well, I must make that claim’.

“It took me years to come to terms with what had happened to me, let alone share the abuse with police officers.

“But because I had complained about Moscroft when I was 15, I was told I wasn’t eligible for anything.

“It put me into a real depression. I felt that the abuse wasn’t believed.

“Then I became enraged. It wasn’t about the money and became about other child victims. How can you put a time limit on such trauma?”

Mr French’s abuser was convicted of ten offences, including indecent assault, gross indecency with a child and child cruelty.

“It fell under the remit of a historical case because of the previous complaint, yet Moscroft had been convicted, he added.

“It feels like this is a loophole for the Government to save money.” Nick said he was “haunted” by the memories of his abuse, ­adding: “It was horrendous. It’s taken me years to get over it.

“It was only when I had my own ­children I realised the real extent of what had happened to me. It became more real and I thought, ‘How can someone harm a child?’.

“I was having flashbacks and nightmares, and I’ve had psychological help to come to terms with it all.”

Mr French decided to appeal and was eventually awarded criminal injuries compensation, but he had to use the services of a personal injury lawyer to help win his case.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) state that victims of historic sex abuse have two years from their 18th birthday to make a claim if the crime was reported to police when they were children.

The same two-year rule also applies to survivors who make a police complaint as adults.

The official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority’s line is that where the abuse involves a child victim who did not report it until they became an adult, an application for compensation can be made up to two years after the abuse was first reported to police.

However, an application can still be considered if the time limit is not met, as long as it can be proved that there were exceptional circumstances preventing an application from being made sooner.

 

About the Author

- Adam Lee is a financial writer who has insightful knowledge in dealing with different financial issues. He tries to help people to get out of difficult financial situations by contributing financial write ups to websites and blogs such as Moneyforlunch.com and Moneynewsnow.com

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