HC Deb 21 May 1969 vol 784 cc99-104W
Mr. Arthur Davidson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what modifications he proposes in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Callaghan

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I are satisfied, after discussion with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, that a number of minor amendments should be made to the existing Scheme in the light of experience of its operation. The most important of these will reformulate the definition of offences which attract compensation and will strengthen the Board's hand to reject undeserving cases. The modified Scheme, which incorporates the existing concession for dependants of public servants which I announced on 14th May, 1968, will take effect at once, without prejudice to offers and determinations already made or to appeals from those determinations. It is reproduced below together with a summary of the main changes.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme


1. The Compensation Scheme will be administered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, appointments to which will be made by the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland, after consultation with the Lord Chancellor. The Chairman will be a person of wide legal experience, and the other members, of whom there are at present eight, will also be legally qualified. The Board will be assisted by appropriate staff.

2. The Board will be provided with money through a Grant-in-Aid out of which payments will be made to applicants for compensation where the Board are satisfied, in accordance with the principles set out below, that compensation is justified. Their net expenditure will fall on the Votes of the Home Office and the Scottish Home and Health Department.

3. The Board will be based on London but may establish offices outside London it the need arises. They will hold hearings in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and elsewhere as necessary.

4. The Board will be entirely responsible for deciding what compensation should be paid in individual cases and their decisions will not be subject to appeal or to Ministerial review. The general working of the Scheme will, however, be kept under review by the Government, and the Board will submit annually to the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland a full report on the operation of the Scheme, together with their accounts. The report and accounts will be open to debate in Parliament. In addition the Board may at any time publish such information about the scheme and their decisions in individual cases as may assist intending applicants for compensation.


5. The Board will entertain applications for ex gratia payment of compensation in any case where the applicant or, in the case of an application by a spouse or dependant (see paragraph 12 below), the deceased, sustained in Great Britain, or on a British vessel, aircraft or hovercraft, on or after 1st August, 1964 personal injury directly attributable to a crime of violence (including arson and poisoning) or to an arrest or attempted arrest of an offender or suspected offender or to the prevention or attempted prevention of an offence or to the giving of help to any constable who is engaged in arresting or attempting to arrest an offender or suspected offender or preventing or attempting to prevent an offence. In considering for the purpose of this paragraph whether any act is a criminal act, any immunity at law of an offender, attributable to his youth or insanity or other condition, will be left out of account.

6. Compensation will not be payable unless the Board is satisfied—

  1. (a) that the injury was one for which compensation of not less than £50 would be awarded; and
  2. (b) that the circumstances of the injury have been the subject of criminal proceedings, or were reported to the police without delay; and
  3. (c) that the applicant has given the Board all reasonable assistance, particularly in relation to any medical reports that they may require.
Provided that the Board at their discretion may waive the requirement in (b) above.

7. Where the victim who suffered injuries and the offender who inflicted them were living together at the time as members of the same family no compensation will be payable. For the purposes of this paragraph where a man and woman were living together as man and wife they will be treated as if they were married to one another.

8. Traffic offences will be excluded from the scheme, except where there has been a deliberate attempt to run the victim down.

9. The Board will scrutinise with particular care all applications in respect of sexual offences or other offences arising out of a sexual relationship, in order to determine whether there was any responsibility, either because of provocation or otherwise, on the part of the victim (see paragraph 17 below), and they will especially have regard to any delay that has occurred in submitting the application. The Board will consider applications for compensation arising out of rape and sexual assaults, both in respect of pain, suffering and shock and in respect of loss of earnings due to pregnancy resulting from rape and, where the victim is ineligible for maternity grant under the National Health Scheme, in respect of the expenses of childbirth. Compensation will not be payable for the maintenance of any child born as a result of a sexual offence.


10. Subject to what is said in the following paragraphs, compensation will be assesed on the basis of common law damages and will take the form of a lump sum payment, rather than a periodical pension. More than one payment may, however, sometimes be made—for example, where only a provisional medical assessment can be given in the first instance.

11. Where the victim is alive the amount of compensation will be limited as follows

  1. (a) the rate of loss of earnings (and, where appropriate, of earning capacity) to be taken into account will not exceed twice the average 102 of industrial earnings* at the time that the injury was sustained;
  2. (b) there will be no element comparable to exemplary or punitive damages.

* Average Weekly Earnings for men (21 years and over) as published in the Employment and Productivity Gazette.

12. Where the victim has died in consequence of the injury no compensation will be payable for the benefit of his estate, but the Board will be able to entertain claims from his spouse and dependants. For this purpose, compensation will be payable to any person entitled to claim under the Fatal Accidents Acts, 1846 to 1959 or, in Scotland, under the appropriate Scottish law. Subject to what is said in the following paragraphs the amount of compensation will be governed by the same principles as under those provisions; the total income of the deceased, earned and unearned, to be taken into account being subject to the limit specified in paragraph 11(a) above. Where the victim's funeral expenses are paid by any person for whose benefit an action may be brought under the Fatal Accidents Acts or the appropriate Scottish law, whether or not there is any financial dependency, the Board may pay that person a reasonable sum in respect of funeral expenses less any death grant payable under the National Insurance Scheme. For this purpose paragraph 6(a) above shall not apply.

13. Where the victim has died otherwise than in consequence of the injury, the Board may make an award in respect of loss of wages, expenses and liabilities incurred before death as a result of the injury where, in their opinion, hardship to dependants would otherwise result, whether or not application for compensation in respect of the injury has been made before the death.

14. Compensation will be reduced by the value of any entitlement to social security benefits payable by the Department of Health and Social Security (and of payments made under Treasury authority by analogy with the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act) which accrues as a result of the injury or death to the benefit of the person to whom the award is made.

15. If in the opinion of the Board an applicant may be eligible for any social security benefits or payments mentioned in paragraph 14 the Board may refuse to make an award until the applicant has taken such steps as the Board consider reasonable to claim these benefits or payments.

16. Where the victim is alive the Board will determine on the basis of the common law whether, and to what extent, compensation should be reduced by any pension accruing as a result of the injury. Where the victim has died in consequence of the injury, and any pension is payable for the benefit of the person to whom the award is made as a result of the death of the victim which would not have been payable, or would not have been so large, if his injury had not been sustained while on duty or in the performance of a duty connected with his employment, the compensation will be reduced by four-fifths of the value of that pension or, as the case may be; by four-fifths of the increase of the value attributable to the injuries having been sustained in that way. For the purposes of this paragraph, "pension" means any pension payable in pursuance of pension rights connected with the victim's employment, and includes any gratuity of that kind.

17. The Board will reduce the amount of compensation or reject the application altogether if, having regard to the conduct of the victim, including his conduct before and after the events giving rise to the claim, and to his character and way of life it is inappropriate that he should be granted a full award or any award at all.

18. The Board will have discretion to make special arrangements for the administration of any money awarded as compensation.


19. Every application will be made to the Board in writing as soon as possible after the event on a form obtainable from the Board's office.

20. Applications will be sifted initially by the Board's staff, who will seek further information as to the relevant circumstances and, where necessary, medical advice.

21. The initial decision whether the application should be allowed (and, if so, what amount of compensation should be offered) or should be rejected will normally be taken by one member of the Board, whose decision will be communicated to the applicant; if the applicant is not satisfied with that decision, whether because no compensation is offered or because he considers the amount offered to be inadequate, he will be entitled to a hearing before three other members of the Board, excluding the one who made the initial decision. It will, however, also be open to the single member, where he considers that he cannot reach a just and proper decision, himself to refer the application to three other members of the Board for a hearing.

22. At the hearing, it will be for the applicant to make out his case; he and a member of the Board's staff will be able to call, examine and cross-examine witnesses. The Board will reach their decision solely in the light of the evidence brought out at the hearing, and all the information before them will be available to the applicant. While it will be open to the applicant to bring a friend or legal adviser to assist him in putting his case, the Board will not pay the costs of legal representation. They will, however, have discretion to pay the expenses of witnesses.

23. Procedure at a hearing will be as informal as is consistent with a proper determination of the application, and the hearing will be in private.

24. It is not intended that a person who has pursued a claim for damages for personal injuries should obtain compensation from the Board in respect of those injuries in addition to obtaining satisfaction from that claim; and compensation will be reduced by any sum which the victim has received in pursuance of an order for compensation by a criminal court in respect of his injuries. Furthermore, a person who is compensated by the Board will be required to undertake to repay them from any damages, settlement or compensation he may subsequently obtain in respect of his injuries.

Summary of the Main Changes

Paragraph 5: The original scheme (paragraph 5(a)) provided for compensation for personal injury directly attributable to "a criminal offence". To reflect more closely the intention of the scheme this has been changed in the revised scheme to "a crime of violence (including arson and poisoning)".

The last sentence of this paragraph (disregard of immunity at law relating to youth, insanity or other condition) incorporates a clarification of the scheme announced in reply to a Question on 4th August, 1966 [OFFICIAL REPORT, c. 154–5.]

Paragraph 6 makes the minimum amount of compensation £50 in all cases; the provision in original paragraph 5(c) of an alternative minimum of three weeks' loss of earnings, which has been found to be unsatisfactory in operation and to bring in relatively trivial cases, is discarded.

Sub-paragraph 6(c), in addition to rephrasing the requirement as to medical examination in original paragraph 5(e), requires an applicant to give all reasonable assistance to the Board.

Paragraph 7 excludes from the scheme, in addition to members of the offender's family (original paragraph 7), a person cohabiting with the offender.

Paragraph 13 enables the Board to make an award in a case where a victim dies otherwise than in consequence of his injuries, if hardship to dependants would otherwise result.

Paragraph 14 defines more clearly what payments from public funds (original paragraph 13) should be set off against an award of compensation; paragraph 15 gives the Board power to require an applicant to claim any such payments before making an award.

Paragraph 16 incorporates a change in the scheme announced in Parliament on 14th May, 1968 [OFFICIAL REPORT, c. 234], with requires that in fatal cases occupational pensions, whether public or private, should be deducted in part from any award: under the original scheme a public sector pension had been offset in full as a payment from public funds (original paragraph 13) but there was no offset for a private pension.

Paragraph 17 widens the discretion of the Board (original paragraph 12) to withhold or reduce compensation if the conduct or character of the victim make it appropriate to do so.

Paragraph 18 enables the Board to make special arrangements for the administration of an award made to any applicant, and not only to an infant as at present (original paragraph 14).

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