Skip to main content

Unspent convictions and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme

What is the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme?

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is a government funded scheme designed to compensate victims of violent crime. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA),
administer the Scheme and decide all claims. The rules of the Scheme and the value of payments awarded are set by Parliament and calculated according to a tariff of injuries. CICA acknowledge that “…[the award] will never fully compensate you for what you have suffered or lost – it is just society’s way of recognising that you have been a victim”.

Compensation can be awarded for:

  • mental or physical injury following a crime of violence;
  • sexual or physical abuse;
  • loss of earnings – where you have no or limited capacity to work as the direct result of a criminal injury;
  • special expenses payments – these cover certain costs you may have incurred as a direct result of an incident. You can only ask us to consider special expenses if your injuries mean you have been unable to work or have been incapacitated to a similar extent for more than 28 weeks;
  • a fatality caused by a crime of violence including bereavement payments, payments for loss of parental services and financial dependency; and funeral payments.

The problem

Since 2012 victims of violent crime are not entitled to compensation under the Scheme if they have an unspent conviction that resulted in:

  • a sentence excluded from rehabilitation;
  • detention or imprisonment, including in a young offenders’ institution or other youth custody
  • a sentence of service detention;
  • removal from Her Majesty’s service;
  • a community order;
  • a youth rehabilitation order; or
  • a sentence equivalent to a sentence described above, imposed under the law of Northern Ireland or a member state of the European Union, or such a sentence properly imposed in a country outside of the European Union

This means that people with unspent convictions who are themselves the victim of a crime, are effectively denied their status as victims by the state. People affected by this rule have included victims of sexual abuse and other serious crimes, whose own offending can be clearly linked to the crimes committed against them and the trauma they have experienced.

In 2021 the High Court ruled that the government must hold a public consultation on this issue, following a successful challenge by a woman who had experienced childhood sexual abuse – but had been refused compensation by the scheme due to a conviction for a public order offence.

What we think needs to change

We want to see a return to the old system, when decision-makers had discretion. This would allow for awards to be withheld when there are clear reasons to do so, but would end the hierarchy of victims created by the current system.

What we're doing

Following our response to the government’s consultation, we continue to campaign on this issue. We will hold the government to account and ensure that the voices of people with criminal records are heard at the highest level.

We want to make sure that our website is as helpful as possible.

Letting us know if you easily found what you were looking for or not enables us to continue to improve our service for you and others.

Was it easy to find what you were looking for?

Thank you for your feedback.

12 million people have criminal records in the UK. We need your help to help them.

Help support us now