The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) has handed ‘same roof ‘ victims a second chance to make a claim: But do they know they have been given it?
Abuse lawyer Rachel Thain is calling on the government to take urgent steps to publicise a significant change in the CICA criminal injuries compensation scheme and extend the deadline for making a claim.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is a government funded scheme set up to compensate innocent victims of violent crime. When it was originally established the CICA refused to entertain applications from victims of crimes that were committed by someone living under the same roof.
The so called ‘same roof rule’ was universally criticised for being unjust. It left genuine victims of violence without the right to seek compensation and this inequity impacted on some of the most vulnerable groups in society. In particular the ‘same roof rule’ prejudiced victims of sexual abuse, even where those victims were children and therefore powerless to do anything about where they were living.
Campaigners eventually achieved victory in 1979 when the much maligned ‘same roof rule’ was abolished. However, the change in the law was not retrospective. As a result thousands of people who had suffered violence prior to the introduction of the amendment on 1 October 1979 were left abandoned under the revised scheme.
The campaign therefore continued and last year the CICA finally agreed to accept applications for compensation from people who had been abused or assaulted by someone living under the same roof prior to October 1979.
But while the change is a welcome one, Rachel fears that the cut off date for making such a claim will again result in injustice. Rachel explains:
“Those wishing to make an historic CICA claim only have until 12 June 2021 to do so. I don’t think that is enough time, particularly as the change in the law has received very little publicity.
My fear is that there are many victims out there who are now eligible for compensation, but are not aware of their rights.
Second chances do not come along often, and it would be a travesty if, after decades of campaigning, innocent victims are still denied their right to compensation.
Some of these people will have previously applied to the CICA, but had their claim rejected. Others will have considered applying in the past, but been put off when they were told they would not be successful. How will they know that the rules have changed? How will they know they have been given a second chance? It is entirely foreseeable that a significant proportion of eligible victims will never discover the change in the law or will find out about it too late, after next year’s deadline has already passed.”
Typical of those affected is Brian Mynott. Brian recently and movingly told Rachel about how he felt when he first heard that the iniquitous ‘same roof rule’ was to change. “I was elated that justice could now be done,” he said, “and all those doubters in my life would now realise that it was not ‘all in my head’.”
Brian has gone on to write a book about his experiences as a survivor of sexual abuse, Just Once, When I was Little. He wrote it to give people a better understanding of the life of a child born into privation, sexual violence and terror. He shares Rachel’s concerns that those who have been given a second chance will still miss out. “Many victims are yet to learn that historic abuse law has changed regarding the ‘same roof rule’ and they deserve to know about it.”
Rachel is pleading for the CICA to extend its deadline and for the government to spearhead a publicity drive that will alert those who are entitled to claim.
For further information Rachel can be contacted via email at [email protected] or by telephone on 01823 354545.