The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is an executive agency sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. CICA deals with compensation claims from people who have been physically or mentally injured because they were the victim of a violent crime in England, Scotland or Wales.
The Victims’ Commissioner welcomed the Interim CEO of CICA (Linda Brown).
VC Review into Criminal Injuries Compensation
The VC touched on her impending review into victim access to criminal injuries compensation. The review would be launched in May and would report back in the Autumn. It would be looking not only at how CICA processes worked from a victim perspective, but also at the role of other agencies, including local victim services, the police and prosecutors and community mental health.
The VC had recently appeared on The One Show meeting with victims who were discussing their experience in claiming compensation. This appearance had prompted over 100 letters and emails. The CEO undertook to look at some of the correspondence and respond to the issues raised.
The CEO was keen to support the review and stated that CICA regularly gathers and reviews client feedback to inform opportunities to improve the service.
CICA internal review of processes
CICA had undertaken an internal review of how its processes might be simplified to improve victim access. They had worked with the MOJ User Research Team and had invited applicants (victims) who were willing to volunteer to try new simplified application forms and the new secure online service to provide feedback. The feedback is being used to refine the service design. The purpose of this review was to make it easier for victims to claim. A new application form is currently being piloted and the VC was keen to know the outcome.
The VC and CEO discussed why it was that so many applicants chose to make their applications through the support of lawyers. The VC would like to see more victims being assisted through local victim services, although not all local services provided this support. A recent High Court judgment in Scotland found that a service provider was liable to pay compensation to a victim for providing inadequate advice. There was a fear that this case would have ramifications for victims across the UK as service providers would be reluctant to support victims. This was an unwelcome development.
The VC and CEO agreed that this case re-enforced the need to simplify the process so that more victims felt able to complete the forms unaided or with the support of telephone assistance to help the through the online process.
CICA staff training
CICA was also providing staff with refresher training on handling calls, which included giving them a better understanding of callers who might be suffering from anxiety or conditions such as PTSD. Many staff were passionate about their job and keen to help those making an application. The VC welcomed this additional training.
Turn-around time in clearing applications
The VC and CEO discussed the time taken to process applications. CICA were aware of the unacceptable wait for many victims. They were focusing on reducing the average time between applications being received and a final outcome. In April 2017 only 52%% of cases were resolved in 12 months or less. By March 2018 this figure had risen to 81%.
The live caseload has been reduced in the last 12 months from over 40,000 cases at the end of March 2017, to just over 35,000 at the end of 2018. The CEO considered that this is reflective of the increased number of cases resolved.
Compensation for mental injury
The VC had raised with the previous CEO her concerns about the difficulties faced by victims claiming for mental injury. CICA acknowledged the problems victims experienced in providing the required level of medical evidence.
They have now employed a team of five clinical psychologists to assess the available medical records of treatment where this is sufficient to evidence a victim has suffered a disabling mental injury without the need to refer for a face-to-face specialist medical. The information then provided by the Clinical Psychologist is used by the CICA decision maker in assessing the overall claim on which an offer of compensation is based. If victims were content with the assessment they could settle without having to attend a further medical assessment. The CEO reported that this is working well.
CICA rely heavily on police reports to substantiate claims. The CEO referred to some delays in claims being processed arising from some police forces not adhering to the Service Level Agreement on timescales. Sometimes this can because investigations are ongoing, at others because of organisational issues and there are differences in performance across the regions. CICA are engaging with the Police to try and improve the response times. The VC undertook to look at this issue as part of her review.
The VC and CEO will meet again in six months.
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