UK survivors of terrorist atrocities say compensation scheme is broken | UK security and counter-terrorism

People who suffered life-changing injuries or mental anguish after being caught up in terrorist atrocities have condemned the UK’s compensation system for being “broken” and “unmanageable”, according to a report released on Monday.

A survey of those affected by 11 major terrorist incidents found that more than two-thirds felt that the compensation scheme overseen by the Criminal Injuries and Compensation Authority was unfair and unreasonable.

People who were severely injured in bombings, shootings and stabbings or are suffering from PTSD have complained about the low levels of compensation and the length of time it takes to receive money after traumatic incidents. Many have been unable to work for long periods following the incidents.

Brendan Cox, co-founder of Survivors Against Terror and co-author of the report, said CICA should be replaced. “CICA is broken. There can be no other conclusion from the data and the testimonies we have gathered.

“An organisation that is supposed to be helping survivors recover and rebuild is instead consistently doing them harm. If the organisation had poor processes and procedures but scored well on other areas, there would be hope for reform. There is not.

“Survivors deserve better. They have been attacked – not because of who they are, but as proxies for the British state. Therefore, the British state has a responsibility to ensure that they are supported,” he said.

Survivors Against Terror (SAT) distributed the survey among survivors caught up in major atrocities including the 7/7 London Bombings, the Fishmonger Hall stabbings, the Manchester Arena attack, and the terror attacks in Paris, Tunisia, Mumbai and Bali.

The charity received 132 responses from survivors to questions about their experiences with CICA and found:

  • Sixty-eight per cent felt that the process was unfair and unreasonable, only 9% felt the opposite.

  • Sixty-two per cent did not feel treated with respect and empathy – compared with only 17% who felt they were.

  • The requests for evidence from CICA as “proof” of physical and psychological injury were experienced as unmanageable, unreasonable, and the time limits set by CICA were experienced as unreasonable.

  • More than half said they were unable to speak to someone from CICA for help.

Lisa Bridgett, the manager of a boating park, is among many survivors of the 2017 Manchester Arena attack who have complained about the compensation scheme.

More than five years after the bombing, which blew off a middle finger and left her with facial scarring, a broken ankle, lifelong breathing difficulties and PTSD, she rejected a £17,350 award from CICA.

“I’ve been unable to bring myself to accept the offer made to me by the CICA so far as I feel it’s simply an insult. It’s like offering scraps of help,” she told WalesOnline in March.

“It’s all done by working to a spreadsheet and a table of payments dependent upon the physical and psychological injury suffered.

“They give you 100% of the set award for what they class as your first injury, 30% for your second injury and then 15% for your third injury. They have offered me £13,500 for mental injuries, which they have classed as not lasting for more than five years, £3,300 for my broken ankle as the second injury and £550 for the loss of my finger as the third injury,” she said.

Since 2017, CICA has paid almost £4.6m to victims of terrorism in the UK and overseas. The scheme is one of last resort and intended for those who are unable to seek or obtain compensation for their injuries by other means, such as through a civil personal injury claim. Compensation can be awarded up to a limit of £500,000 and is subject to eligibility criteria.

A government spokesperson said: “While no amount of compensation can make up for the ordeal suffered by victims of terror, it is right survivors get the support they need including through the publicly funded Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme that has paid out more than £158m to victims of violent crime in the last year alone.

“This includes £4.6m for victims of terrorism since 2017, with a dedicated team helping victims of the Manchester Arena attack receive the compensation to which they are entitled. But we know more must be done, which is why the government is reviewing the support available, to better address victims’ needs.”


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