County victims claim £5m in compensation

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VICTIMS of crime in Suffolk have claimed more than £5 million in compensation over the last four years, figures have revealed.

Compensation paid out ranges from £125 for the loss of a front tooth right up to a £357,939 pay out for serious brain damage.

The figures, obtained by the Bury Free Press under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that 774 claims were made from 2008 to 2011.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) processes the claims, with maximum pay outs of £500,000. CICA’s injury tariff outlines the amount victims can expect to receive.

To qualify under new regulations introduced in 2008, claimants must meet the authority’s minimum award of £1,000 to apply.

The victim also has to have been injured in an act of violence in England, Scotland or Wales within the last two years.

No-one has to be convicted or even charged with the crime.

Claims involving children figure highest among the data, with 138 made – including indecent assault, sexual assault and physical abuse. The average claim in these cases came to just over £8,500.

Sexual assault is the next most common claim, with 132 made. Of those, 113 involved a child. The average pay out was just under £10,000.

Simon Davis, catastrophic injury unit director for Ashton KCJ solicitors, said flaws in the system meant claimants ended up receiving meagre pay outs.

“The injury tariff is considerably below what a court would award for injuries in these categories,” he said.

“Loss of earnings and other expenses are not paid until 28 weeks after the injury and are capped.

“Even in the most serious cases in which the courts would award millions, the whole award is capped at £500,000.”

The slow progress of claims means that almost all the cases in the Bury Free Press’ data were dealt with under the 2001 Act, with no minimum value for claims.

Mr Davis described the drawn out process as a ‘scandal’.

“The authority works at its own pace and will not respond to chasing.

“We have a client who was assaulted in January 2005. He cannot work and is reliant on his family for care. His case is still not resolved.

“The scheme at least provides something to those assaulted or attacked and the families of those killed but the delays in doing so are, I believe, unacceptable,” he said.

The average claim in Suffolk of £6,959 is just above the national average of £6,248 over the same period.

More than £200 million is claimed nationally using the scheme.