The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority’s Role In Supporting Victims Of Terrorism

 In Criminal Injury, Daryl Smith
ARTICLE BY: Daryl Smith

In official figures released earlier this year, terror-related arrests hit an all-time high in Britain. In the year ending 31st March 2018, 441 people were held on suspicion of terror-related activity – the highest number on record since the Home Office began collecting data in 2001. This is a drastic increase of around 17% from the previous year, attributed to the arrests made following the disasters at Manchester Arena and in London.[i]

With the Home Office announcing that Britain faces a severe threat from Islamist terrorism for at least another two years, with the potential of the danger increasing even further still,[ii]  it is important to assess how the Government assists the unfortunate victims who are caught up in terrorist attacks inflicted on the UK.

On 22nd May 2017, an Islamic terrorist detonated a shrapnel-laden bomb in Manchester Arena, shortly after a performance by US singer Ariana Grande. The attack had devastating effects, killing 23 people and leaving 139 injured. The Government had pledged funding to care for the surviving victims, both those present and the families of those that have lost love ones, however recent studies have shown that these victims had been let down by numerous functions.

The group Survivors Against Terror (SAT) visited Downing Street on 21st November 2018 to hand over the first large-scale survey assessing how those caught up in terror attacks, or whose loved ones were, such as the Manchester bombing, are managing. SAT found that some victims were left with post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), with some contemplating suicide because of their experiences. Shockingly, in the responses to the survey, there were people still attempting to seek support more than a year on, with this being blamed on a “profound crisis” in mental health services in the UK.[iii]

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is a Government funded scheme that compensates blameless victims of violent crime that have no other outlet left to explore. In the event of a terror attack, they work to aid survivors, or families of the deceased, by remunerating them for their loss, pain and suffering. While no amount of recompense could help families to forget their experiences, the compensation can go a long way in helping victims rebuild their lives. There is, therefore, a huge responsibility that falls on the CICA’s shoulders to make sure their awards are swift, just and fair. Unfortunately, figures obtained 4th May 2018 showed that, while 93 survivors and relatives of those killed in the Manchester terrorist attack have been offered payment or paid by the CICA, at a total of £498,758, over 390 claims still remain unsettled.[iv]

While the CICA does advise that a claimant should expect to be waiting around a year at the minimum for their case to be resolved, there should be exceptions in instances of acts with such a widespread reach. Until the cases are concluded and the compensation has been issued, the individuals do not have the ability to start to move on. This is leaving victims and their families with the incident still fresh in their minds after prolonged periods of time, which can in turn negatively affect their mental health and therefore pile more pressure on the aforementioned mental health services and support.

Thankfully, one of the issues that the Government will address in their upcoming CICA review is the suitability of their scheme in providing support to victims of terrorism. It was noted in their press release on 9th September of this year that they acknowledge that there were questions that had surfaced regarding the “suitability of the scheme in providing support to victims of terrorism” as a result of the attacks last year. They will, therefore, review the eligibility, entitlement and amount of compensation they will award to “help ensure the best possible support.”[v]

[i] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jun/14/number-terrorism-related-arrests-uk-record-levels

[ii] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jun/03/uk-faces-two-years-of-severe-terrorism-threat-warns-home-office

[iii] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/terror-attack-mental-health-nhs-waiting-list-ptsd-manchester-arena-bomb-london-bridge-a8643591.html

[iv] https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/terror-attacks-compensation-scandal-hundreds-12483518

[v] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/justice-secretary-announces-victim-compensation-scheme-review-scraps-unfair-rule

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