Getting compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)

If you have been physically abused or your mental health has suffered as a result of a violent criminal act, you might be able to claim compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). 

This would apply if you were physically or sexually assaulted; the abuser doesn’t have to have been charged with the crime or convicted. Typically, you should make an application within 2 years of the incident however, you can still apply after 2 years if you’re making a claim for abuse you experienced as a child.

Compensation for non-recent child abuse cases

Whilst you may have heard of historical child abuse, we prefer to use the term non-recent child abuse  due to the fact whilst the abuse may have been many years in the past the survivor of the abuse still lives with the trauma. 

Due to the nature of non-recent cases, there may be limitations on the amount of evidence the police can gather. There are also laws regarding what evidence can be used in court, which may mean that in some cases a prosecution can’t proceed. If other reports have been made against the person you have accused and the police feel there is enough evidence to proceed with the case, they will transfer your case over to the Crown Prosecution Service. The Crown will then be responsible for deciding whether to prosecute the abuser. Regardless of the outcome of your case, specially trained officers will support you throughout the process.

The steps that must be taken to prove a case of historical abuse 

Reporting the crime to the Police

The first step is making a complaint to the police. You can do this by going to your local police station, calling 101, or reporting a crime online if that’s an option. You will have to give a statement outlining what happened and then the police will outline the prosecution process. If the police feel confident that you wish to proceed, they will begin an investigation.

How will the police investigate my case? 

Here are some of the things they might do:

  • Interview anyone who has already supported you (a relative, friend, colleague) 
  • Give details of other witnesses who can confirm your report. 
  • Gather forensic evidence (if possible)
  • Confiscate and analyse the abuser’s phones and computers or anything else they might find after searching the abuser’s house.
  • Obtain medical records (if you give consent). 
  • Arrest and interview your abuser at the police station. 

What happens when the police have completed their investigation? 

Once they have completed their investigation, which could take a long time, the police will pass their file to the Crown Prosecution Service who will decide if there is enough evidence to charge the suspect. If so, they then decide on the actual charges the suspect will face, which depends on what is shown by the evidence. 

The decision to charge the abuser

The next stage is the decision of whether to charge the abuser. If the CPS decides not to charge, it does not mean you have not been believed.  It could just mean that the police were unable to find enough evidence or did not believe they could prove it to the standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. 

 The court hearing and trial 

Due to the severity of child abuse cases, they are almost always heard in the Crown Court in front of a judge and jury. The trial length depends on the number of charges, the number of witnesses required to give evidence and the amount of time it takes for the jury to reach a decision. Normally these kinds of trials will last anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

Cross-examination

It’s likely that you will have to give evidence during the trial however it is possible to give evidence via video link or anonymously from behind a screen. The defence lawyer’s job is to defend your abuser; If you feel overwhelmed, ask for a break. The judge may interfere if the defence becomes too aggressive, but you should still be prepared for a testing time. 

The jury’s decision

Once the court has heard all the evidence from the prosecution and the defence, the judge will sum up the details of the case for the jury, who will then retire and consider what they have heard during the trial. 

Conclusion

Seeking justice for a non-recent child abuse case is possible but it can be distressing. It is imperative that you consider the pros and cons of testifying and the possible repercussions involved. If you have good support, you’ll find it easier than if you’re embarking on the journey alone.