Reform of 'insulting' compensation for crime victims


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Mar 23, 2002
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Dover, Kent, United Kingdom
Charles Clarke was today due to announce an overhaul of the Government-funded compensation scheme for people injured by crime, after criticism of the way the victims of the July 7 London bombings have been treated.

The Home Secretary will remove the £500,000 cap on payments to people debilitated by crime, opening the way for multi-million pound payouts. However, those who suffer slight injuries - such as cracked ribs, perforated eardrums or minor burns - will no longer be offered cash payments, but only unspecified 'practical help'.

The Home Office proposals follow criticism about the size and sluggishness of awards made by the 40-year-old Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (Cica) to those most seriously injured in the suicide attacks of the London transport network.

According to reports, some of the most seriously injured victims are still living on charity handouts while waiting for compensation. CICA has so far made 106 payments totalling just over £1 million to victims of the London attacks - an average of £9,430 each.

Under its present remit, Cica could only award a maximum of £11,000 to each of the bereaved families of the 52 people killed. This compares with around two million dollars (£1.13 million) for each death claim made by families of September 11 victims to the US government.

Nader Mozzaka, whose wife Behnaz was killed on July 7, has rejected the offer of £5,500 compensation as an "insult".

Martine Wright, who lost both her legs in the Aldgate Tube bomb, was told the limbs were worth only £55,000 each.

Diana Gorodi, whose sister Michelle Otto died in Russell Square, said today that she was pleased the Government had listened to the concerns of victims' families. But she told the BBC that she was concerned the major payments would be made at the expense of other people who had suffered minor injuries.

Today's shake-up is aimed at ending a backlog of minor claims, which often lead to a payment of less than £2,000. About 86 per cent of the £170 million given out by the CICA each year is for injuries such as back strains and broken teeth.

Under the reforms, those seriously injured in terror attacks will be dealt with first.

The Home Secretary has however ruled out a the creation of a dedicated body solely to compensate victims of terrorist attacks.

In an interview published last month he said: "Whether you are stabbed outside the pub or maimed by an explosion on a Tube train, it's not actually the way in which you are injured that is the key thing - provided it's a criminal act - but the extent of the injuries."

Lord Brennan QC, former chairman of the Bar Council and Cica board member, described the scheme as 'underfunded, understaffed and which under-compensates.'