Crime victim compensation changes unveiled

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The Independent Online

Changes to the Government-funded compensation scheme for crime victims will be unveiled today, according to reports.

People who suffer minor injuries would no longer qualify for payments, while those more seriously hurt would receive greater payouts.

The maximum figure of £500,000 paid to survivors who are seriously debilitated is set to be removed in the planned shake-up.

The Home Office proposals come in the wake of criticism about the size of awards made to those affected by the July 7 suicide bombings in London.

Solicitors for some of the victims and their families called on the Government to review the level of payments.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) could only award £11,000 to each of the bereaved families of the 52 people killed.

That figure compares with around two million dollars (£1.13 million) for each death claim made by families of September 11 victims to the US government.

CICA has so far made 106 payments totalling more than £1 million in connection with the London attacks, the BBC reported.

Under the new plans, which will be published in a consultation paper, thousands of people who suffer broken bones or minor burns will receive practical help, rather than cash aid.

It is understood that more funds will not be provided for the compensation scheme and a separate system for victims of terrorist attacks has been ruled out.

The CICA scheme has existed since 1964 and is run in England, Scotland and Wales.

Supporters of the scheme argue that the sum given to bereaved families, for which it receives most criticism, should not be seen as the value of a life but as a "token of public sympathy".

They point out that it is by far the largest such state compensation scheme in the world and the Home Office pays out more than £200 million a year under the scheme to thousands of crime victims.