This week Teresa voted against the Government’s plan to restrict compensation for the victims of serious crime through changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme designed to save £50m a year.
The current Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme makes awards to between 30,000 and 40,000 people each year who are seriously injured following a violent crime and unable to work. Claims are commonly awarded to victims of savage dog attacks; shop workers who have been physically attacked at work; and victims of sexual abuse and physical assault. But under the Government’s reforms 18,000 people a year who would have received compensation will no longer do so, and a further 13,000 will receive substantially less than under the existing scheme.
When the plans were first debated in September, Justice Minister Helen Grant said she would reconsider the plans after protests by MPs, unions and victim support groups. However, when the Committee met again on Thursday the plans were presented unchanged to a Committee whose membership had been stacked with coalition MPs on the Government payroll. This time the changes were approved by nine votes to seven, with Labour MPs voting against.
During the debate, Teresa highlighted restrictions to the compensation scheme that would penalise people who hadn’t been in full employment for 3 years prior to the attack and victims of sexual abuse who weren’t strong enough to report the assault immediately to the police. She also criticised plans to charge victims of crime £50 for medical evidence, which could deter victims of crime on low incomes from claiming compensation for their serious injuries.
“The way in which we treat victims of crime is a reflection on our society. By removing compensation for thousands of victims of violent crime, this Government has demonstrated quite clearly that it is not on the side of the victim.
“Victims of violent crime deserve more than just words. This Government and the MPs who voted to strip victims of crime of compensation for their injuries will no doubt wish to be remembered for being tough on crime. However they will also be remembered for being tough on the victims of crime.”
Teresa’s full contribution to the debate can be viewed here.