The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) of Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse has published today (23rd Oct) their report on ‘Survivors experiences of court and applying for compensation.’
In its third report of 2019, the APPG explores survivors’ experience of court and applying for compensation.
The findings were gathered in four ways:
- Survivor evidence session in Parliament
- Sector professional evidence session in Parliament
- Online survey of survivors with 365 respondents
- Written evidence submitted to the APPG
The report publishes the findings from the APPG’s inquiry which consulted nearly 400 survivors and details a number of issues with the criminal justice system, including: professionals’ poor communication with survivors about the court process and trial outcomes, the challenges survivors face in attending as witnesses, the absence of after-court support and the byzantine process of applying for compensation.
The main findings are:
- Survivors want better information about what to expect at court, they would like some familiarisation with the court where the trial is taking place and they would like to be sure that they will not be confront by their abuser in entrances and waiting rooms
- Survivors want more support with managing their employers, getting better entitlements to time off and accurate information for employers to access about court requirements
- Survivors highly value the support of Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) but only half were offered one
- There are a number of ways the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme can better meet the needs of the child sexual abuse survivors. Reform should be centred on a trauma-informed response to survivors throughout the application process and should specifically address current issues with the scheme that fail to recognise that many survivors are groomed and coerced into criminal activity that currently disbars them from application
The report makes a series of achievable recommendations on how Government should restore survivors’ confidence in the justice system, including: giving witnesses and survivors the same rights as jurors when they receive a court summons; mandatory training in trauma for court staff; reforming the Criminal Injuries and Compensation Scheme (CICS) so that survivors are not disbarred from applying or retraumatised by the process.
Commenting, Sarah Champion said:
“This report exposes the Governments’ poor record on achieving justice for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Survivors should not face an ongoing battle to find out information about the court process or to get the special measures they are entitled to, enabling them to give evidence with confidence. Without these steps, is it any wonder many people drop out of the process altogether?
The Government is failing to give survivors confidence that their case will get a fair hearing at trial. Even worse, once the court process is over survivors say they feel abused by the very system they hoped would support them.”
Commenting on reform to CICA:
“It is a scandal that the Government has yet to reform the compensation scheme. It’s rules are out of date, for example we now know that some survivors are forced into criminal activity as part of the grooming process. This should not be a bar on them accessing compensation once that the abuse has been proven.
The whole scheme needs comprehensive reform so that victims and survivors are put at the centre of the process because, right now, it is all about saving the Government money not supporting people to rebuild their lives shattered by crime.”