We deal with a shocking and increasing amount of abuse cases at Hudgell Solicitors and yet I’m aware that many instances are not reported or disclosed until something comes to the surface that prompts a response such as the case with the recently reported historical football abuse claims.
There are a number of differences to usual CICA claims for these types of cases. Due to the nature of the offence the CICA relax their 2 year time limit for making a claim. It is technically 2 years from the date of reporting the abuse to the police (or before the age of 20 if it is reported when the victim is a minor), but as is often the case if a victim has a related disabling mental injury that has prevented them from being able to bring the claim earlier the CICA often waive the time limit. Whilst the CICA are less strict with their time limits it is always better to bring the claim as early as possible, it makes evidence gathering easier and the claim is more likely then to succeed. Despite what the police (or others) sometimes advise victims, they don’t have to wait for the criminal trial to conclude before making an application to the CICA. The CICA claim may be put on hold pending the outcome of the trial but the application should still be submitted.
The abuse does have to be reported to the police and the victim would have to have ‘seen it through’, so not ‘dropped charges’ or refused to testify. The victim must also not have any unspent convictions themselves at the time they make the application, or gain any during it which can often happen.
Victims should be aware that making a CICA claim can be a long and drawn out process. Claims take on average 18 months to conclude and can be much longer, particularly if there are related psychological injuries. The CICA will request copies of police reports, medical records, reports from your GP or other medical practitioners and may commission a medical report of their own if they are not able to determine the extent of the psychological injury – all of this of course takes time! If there are no related psychological injuries the claims can sometimes conclude quicker on the back of the police report alone.
What victims also need to be made aware of is that the CICA is a government scheme and is not set up to fully compensate them as such , although no amount of money can ever make up from what they have been through. It is set up to give a sum of money to victims of violent crimes as a gesture of public sympathy for what has happened to them.
Nowadays, we, and by ‘we’ I mean society, are becoming more vigilant – with police checks and the use of social media etc, that we did not have in previous decades. Also, what is perceived as acceptable behavior, or people turning a blind eye has also changed and figures who are seen to be trusted can also be held to account. I think with the amount of press on the subject, this vigilance, attitude and accountability should only increase.