The justice secretary has unveiled new plans to reform the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme following annual costs trebling to almost £300 million between 1997 and 2011. Ken Clarke also desires for criminals to make greater contributions towards the scheme. He has predicted that £50 million could be raised for victims in the event that a greater number of offenders paid victim surcharges and higher fines were introduced for individuals convicted of driving offences. Mr. Clarke has told of his desire to prevent criminals from claiming for injuries as part of the scheme’s reforms. Under the proposals, compensation schemes for minor injuries for individuals in England, Scotland and Wales would also be limited.
According to recent reports, the proposals are the result of ministers believing that the system has spiralled out of control. Over the past ten years, 20,000 individuals in possession of criminal records have received in excess of £75 million. Over 3,000 current and former inmates have made claims in the last year alone. In one case, a claimant was awarded a four-figure compensation payout for experiencing “temporary mental anxiety” following being struck by a bunch of flowers.
Under the current compensation scheme, individuals with spent convictions or those who were jailed for less than 30 months are able to claim compensation. In the event that a claimant’s conviction has not been spent, they remain eligible to claim compensation. However, their compensation may be reduced. In future, however, individuals in possession of criminal records will only prove eligible to claim for compensation in the most exceptional of circumstances.
Duncan Lewis’ prison law solicitors can aid prisoners in instigating compensation claims.