Families of Holly and Jessica entitled to just £11,000 damages

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The families of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman will receive just £11,000 each under a Home Office compensation scheme - little more than £1,000 for each year of the girls' lives.

The families are expected to apply under the Government's Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS). But the scheme's maximum payout is £500,000 and there are strict guidelines which limit the amount that parents of child murder victims receive to a fraction of that sum.

Critics pointed out that the £11,000 figure is the same paid as that to someone who loses their sense of smell or suffers a damaged wrist as a result of being a victim of crime.

It is significantly less than the £33,000 paid for scarring from burns, £27,000 for the loss of an eye or £16,500 for tinnitus.

Last year, the Home Office paid £248,000 damages to the convicted conman Karl Jones after he fell over in a shower at Wayland jail in Norfolk. And last month it was reported that a police officer, Detective Constable James Mann, is in line for a payout of up to £100,000 from his employers after falling off a chair at a branch of the elite National Crime Squad and hurting his back.

As well as the compensation, the families of the 10-year-old girls murdered by Ian Huntley in Soham, Cambridgeshire in August 2002 could be entitled to "reasonable" extra payments to cover funeral costs.

Clive Elliott, operations director of the Victims of Crime Trust, criticised the size of the payout. "The families should be given probably 100 times as much because, let's face it, they have to live with this tragedy for the entirety of their lives. It has to be more than £11,000. This is only supposed to be a token but it should be more than a token," he said.

"Murder destroys far more than just the victim's life, it destroys the lives of families and communities. It's about time that the Government raised its level of payments."

The Home Office pays out more than £200m a year under the scheme and says it is one of the "most generous" of such systems in the world.

The compensation figure for the deaths of Holly and Jessica is the same as that received by the family of Sarah Payne, who was murdered by Roy Whiting. Josie Russell, who suffered horrific head injuries and witnessed her mother's and sister's murder, was initially offered £18,500, but this was later increased to £79,000.