Sunday, July 19, 2009

Who Dreamt Up This Daft Compo Idea?

The very idea that rape victims could have their compensation cut just because they might have been guilty of a minor traffic offence is not only revolting, it is a sign of a government which has run out of steam. If what the Mail on Sunday reports is true - and the Ministry of Justice appears to confirm it - it is truly shameful.

However, what it does highlight is a compensation scheme which is verging on the ridiculous. How can one possibly put a financial recompense on a murder, or a rape? If a woman is raped by one man, she gets £11,000. If two or more are involved, that rises to £13,500. If it results in the victim contracting HIV it rises to £33,000. If you lose your leg in an accident, you're also entitled to £33,000. Is losing a leg comparable with getting HIV?

It is understandable that if you have a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, it has to operate within certain parameters, and someone has to devise them. No one will ever agree with the standard sums of money they come up with.

But surely we can all agree that unrelated past traffic offences should play no part in deciding whether a compensation claim should be met in full.


ranger1640 said...

Ian it is noting to do with a government that has run out of steam.

It is Nu-Labour vindictiveness against the motorist and the victim. You see Ian Nu-Labour only care for the perpetrators of crime not victims.

Anyway there is not justice for motorists in this stinking festering Nu-Labour cess pit of a country, the only people Nu-Labour look after are the thieving swine in the city and themselves.

Anonymous said...

why should the compo be paid by me via taxes rather than by the rapist...

yellowbelly said...

Iain, it isn't about a government that has run out of steam, more like a government that has run out of cash, moral authority and ideas.

AP said...

It is interesting that being raped and infected with HIV is assessed as a 'damage' worth £33,000 yet a little bit of discrimination in the work place for a couple of years is assessed at £12,000,000 (based on this weeks employment case). In other words our courts think that having a hard time at work is 364 times more serious that being raped and infected with a genuinely life changing illness.

Iain, you are an MP, can you see just how obscene the contrast between these situations are? At what point are we going to cap employment claims for ALL cases, and balance that cap against the levels of compensation for injury or loss of life as a result of criminal action, air/train/sea accident or even as a serving soldier in a theater of war.

Instead of allowing them to bleat on about 'equality' could you persuade our government to get a little common sense and stop creating grossly unequal situations such as these?

Iain Dale said...

AP, I am not an MP. But I wrote this post to highlight some of the issue you write about.

Timothy Wallace said...

This is possibly the cruelest idea the government has come up with for years. Could they not trim excess spending elsewhere? Ministerial cars and taxis? Bottled water? The Olympics?

I've given you a mention here, Iain:

Oliver Drew said...

Does the perpetrator pay this money (they should do)?

It is vindictive to reduce the amount of compensation received because you have committed another offence. If you happen to be raped it doesn't matter if you have a speeding conviction or a conviction for have still been raped and no amount of twisted logic can link the two.

It is a revolting move if it goes through, but a better move would be to get the offender to pay as much of the compensation as possible - as always, if the government wants to save money (oh I find this most distasteful, suggesting that we should be looking at the way victims get compensation paid...) they could find a better way, but this government always seems to find one of the most offensive ways of doing things...

fox in sox said...

i would agree that civil compensation claims should be limited like criminal ones.

It is ridiculous that unfair dismissal or racism in the workplace is valued at more than than loss of a limb. part of the paralysis of industry in acting against the lazy and incompetent is the fear of being sued by Elf and safety or equal ops cases. I am not saying that we should abolish these rules, just limit the awatds to a maximum.

Simlarly libel laws need to be constrained if we are to have some free speech and press. Stop libel tourism.

In reference to Anonymous 1.16 I would agree that the government should not pay. I would suggest that it only acts as agent. Pay the award and then recharge the criminal, with costs of collection applied.

prj45 said...

Why the dog whistle spin on this?

It's any lesser offence isn't it?

With the change in the level at which the deduction kicks in it just so happens traffic offences are now in scope for the current scheme.

But there other such offences that are now in scope too, why aren't these mentioned?

Cynic said...

Why should the state pay victims of crime at all?

I am not suggetsing that the state should not provide services to help them get over their ordeal - but why give them money? What does money actually do for them?

I know that there is the argument that it is some form of recognition but we immediately then get into exactly the sorts of comparisons you highlight Iain. And what do we then do sbout those who have played some role in their own victimhood eg where it's the result of inter-gang attacks or 'business disputes' between drug dealers?

As in so many other areas, Government policy on this is in a complete mess. They have lost all direction and sense of purpose.

At least Johnston seems to be clearing out the steaming piles of political mess Jacqui 'I want my job back' left in the Home Office. You can almost hear the sighs of relief from Civil Servants in Marsham Street!

Helga22 said...

It should also be pointed out that some people make false allegations of sexual abuse/rape and then walk away with £11K at least, as a reward for lying.

This comes out of the public purse, as does the cost of keeping an innocent man in prison and his family on benefits as the main breadwinner has been removed.

Thatsnews said...

Evil, pure evil.

jailhouselawyer said...

Iain: Dominic Grieve is making a right prat of himself in relation to suggesting that heroin addicted prisoners should not be treated with methadone. Perhaps, he missed the news where such prisoners forced to undergo cold turkey successfully sued the MoJ and received £750,000 in damages?

Jack Straw has come up with another hairbrained scheme. It goes like this. Say, Hairy Apist is beaten up by screws and sues the MoJ and wins damages. Straw now wants to take this compo from him and give it to his rape victim.

Can we have a prize for the most abused phrase of the year which is "What about the victims?"?

Victims get their just desserts when an offender is sentenced by the court. Some can even claim compo from the CICA.

It is time that poor old prisoners were given a break from this victimania!

Elby the Beserk said...

The simple fact is that Jack Straw is a loathsome wormlike creep of the lowest order.

And that's being kind.

Norton Folgate said...

If you get caught speeding or a parking ticket you pay your ticket or get your points.

Point being you have already paid the price.

In general criminals in court don't get previous convictions held against them as it is considered discriminatory, yet they are prepared to allow it to happen to victims of the worst kind of violence if they have a parking ticket under 5 years old.

Is there no level this bankrupt Govt won't stoop to in order to screw over the people of this country?

Anonymous said...

I do think we need to get this into perspective. Firstly, as a country, we pay more in compensation to victims than any other country. It is only recently that EU countries have followed suit and their awards are a pittance.

The system was initially set up to cover those who were unable to make a claim against the other person. Generally, claims are made against a person's insurer in the event of a car injury or against the person if it was a personal injury, a company if work injury etc etc. Compensation is ordered by the Courts for those prosecuted to ensure victims of criminal offences are compensated. The rise of no win no fee solicitors also results in compensation. In my view a taxpayer funded scheme has to be tough and only the deserving receive funds.

Whether we like it or not we can not continue to meet the demands placed on the scheme. As far as I know, each time a police officer is struck or threatened, the officer makes a claim to the scheme. Interesting given that they receive their full salary etc. Further, a lot of victims of crime are also criminals. Hence, I can see the logic of past behaviour influencing payments. An example - if a young man has numerous cautions for public order offences and is then involved in a fracas where he sustains an injury - maybe he provoked the attack, he can make a claim for compensation. It seems sensible to me that his history and by placing himself in such a situation should reduce the amount paid. The same can be said for someone injured in a car and unable to claim against the other party who perhaps had no insurance. If the victim has points for speeding this would affect the claim.

I am not happy with the culture that someone - generally the government is to blame for everything and therefore the taxpayer must pay up. Recently, Jack Straw met a victim of the Mumbai terrorist attack who believed that he was entitled to compensation. I am unaware if India has a compensation scheme. The young man has suffered greatly and will be entitled to disability, carers allowance etc. His premises will be converted if he has insufficient funds. I fail to see as a taxpayer why I should give sums of money to people who travel the world on holiday. Business travellers are compensated by their companies and one can always pursue a claim in the civil courts.

I reiterate my view that we are becoming a compensation culture and someone always has to take the blame. I am always sympathetic to those victims who cannot pursue claims through the Courts and whose livelihood can often be jeopardised for months whilst they recover from injury. They are the ones we should be protecting to ensure they retain their homes etc. I am not into all these claims for pain and suffering, mental anguish etc etc.

I do wish the newspapers provided a rather fuller picture and explanation of the scheme rather than just pick out contributing factors influencing payments. They could even compare awards given with other European countries. The scheme does a wonderful job in trying to balance the needs of victims and the taxpayer. Previous convictions reflect behaviour - sorry and in my opinion should be taken into account. Jane

Get Lost JHL said...

Thjailhouselawyer said...

Victims get their just desserts when an offender is sentenced by the court. Some can even claim compo from the CICA.

It is time that poor old prisoners were given a break from this victimania!

The only break you and your jail bird pals need is one in the neck from a piece of rope and a short drop.

You think any cares about your incessant bleating about the rights of locked up scumbags?

prj45 said...

Norton Folgate: "yet they are prepared to allow it to happen to victims of the worst kind of violence if they have a parking ticket under 5 years old."

What bunkum.

Is there any suggestion other than in the crazy mind of the Daily Mail that this is what's intended?

We even had people phoning up today saying they think it's disgusting that getting prosecuted for speeding for doing 2mph over the limit (which never happens) means they get a deduction on a possible future compensation payment, which won't happen.

Utter fanatasy.

prj45 said...

Oliver Drew said... "It is vindictive to reduce the amount of compensation received because you have committed another offence"

When this been happening since?

Presumably since the introduction of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority in what, 1964?

Jimmy said...

"Why the dog whistle spin on this?"

Because speeding and drunk driving aren't real crimes are they?

Oliver Drew said...

@prj45 - I don't know, you are probably right. Doesn't make it right though. If you have paid the price/penalty for an offence then you should not have to pay for it again.

JuliaM said...

"It is time that poor old prisoners were given a break from this victimania!"

*rolls eyes*

It's not like they couldn't avoid it by, oh, say not committing crimes, is it?

colin said...

Get Lost JHL said:

"The only break you and your jail bird pals need is one in the neck from a piece of rope and a short drop."

Except a short drop doesn't break the neck but does arguably provide more entertainment.

Tachybaptus said...

Compensation rates for injuries paid by Henry Morgan to his pirate crew:

Lastly they stipulate in writing what recompense or reward each one ought to have, that is either wounded or maimed in his body, suffering the loss of any limb, by that voyage. Thus they order for the loss of a right arm six hundred pieces of eight, or six slaves; for the loss of a left arm five hundred pieces of eight, or five slaves; for a right leg five hundred pieces of eight, or five slaves; for the left leg four hundred pieces of eight, or four slaves; for an eye one hundred pieces of eight, or one slave; for a finger of the hand the same reward as for the eye. All which sums of money, as I have said before, are taken out of the capital sum.

Cited in Alexander Exquemelin, _Buccaneers of America_, 1926.

Little need to mention the compensation for being laughed at by the other pirates: NO pieces of eight.

allnottinghambasearebelongtous said...

Its always been a feature of the CICS that previous crimes you had committed caused a deduction in compensation you received if you yourself are injured as a result of a crime. In true Mail style the paper gets round to pointing this out near the end of the article but most of their readers won't get this far, already lost to a combination of short attention span and hair trigger dog whistling outrage.

I don't know how long the scheme has been in existence but at least one Tory government has been quite happy for that feature to be there.

Of course Mr Dale and all his commenters were quite happy for this rule to apply to shoplifters and people caught in possession of cannabis. However now the scheme has been made more consistent by including a few middle class crimes they're all up in arms.

Thousands of people a year die on the roads, many as a result of these motoring crimes yet still car drivers bleat and mewl about society having the nerve to criticise them at all.

If you agree with the basic principle about previous crimes affecting your compensation then there's no reason not to include motoring offences. Fair play if you're arguing that the whole principle of deductions is wrong as this is consistent and perfectly arguable.

Quite a lot of Iain's blog seems to have been written by the Mail today and it looks like the Mail commenters have followed too. Presume its part of his payback for losing them a lot of money in that unfortunate incident. perhaps the blog should be renamed the 'Daley Fail'?

Anonymous said...

Blimey and I thought you were a Conservative Iain. I find it risible that you believe the socialist idea of always paying compensation out of taxpayers pockets for all victims of crime. Don't only crimes where a breadwinner is seriously affected qualify? I obviously exclude those victims who need any form of care as a result of criminal activity where the NHS will surely step in anyway. "Compo" sums it up indeed.

prj45 said...

allnottinghambasearebelongtous said... "Of course Mr Dale and all his commenters were quite happy for this rule to apply to shoplifters and people caught in possession of cannabis. However now the scheme has been made more consistent by including a few middle class crimes they're all up in arms."


And let's be clear it's not people who've got an FPN for 35 in a 30 and coughed up the fine and got three points on their license that will be subject to this (the fine isn't high enough to count), it's people like Mr Hughes:

Why should Hughes not get reduced compensation for any possible future assault on him when somebody that had stabbed somebody does?

Openyoureyes said...

What on earth are Labour thinking of?

If they stopped this nonsense,did proper research and actively spoke to those within the field of false allegations /wrongful convictions,they would discover that compensation is one of driving forces behind these.The compensation is astronomical to say the least and all the time that carrot is stuck under someones nose,how can anyone be sure that the claimant is genuine or not?.That is the question Labour has to ask themselves.

jailhouselawyer said...

JuliaM: You are right to ask "It's not like they couldn't avoid it by, oh, say not committing crimes, is it?".

Unfortunately, the issue here is the victim and when the prisoner is the victim they are entitled to the same protection and benefits.

I suspect that the Judiciary will interpret this as the Executive trying to usurp their jurisdiction. Its the role of the Judiciary to sentence and punish and not the Executive.

Constitutional crisis anyone?

Openyoureyes said...

What I find wholly repugnant is the fact innocent men are convicted on the word of another and this governement does nothing to remedy that or to ease the public purse .Yet they come up with this irreverent idea which undoubtfully affects genuine victims in the main.

Labour has definitely lost the plot!!

Laurence Hodge said...

Actually, I rather like this idea. It combines the essential qualities of spite and vindictiveness that we need more of in this country and I think that further punitive measures of unbridled malevolence would ensure a fourth term.

The story that the Mail on Sunday has yet to get hold of is the scheme to be submitted to the Departments actually and aspirationally run by Ed Balls.

The education component first of all will appeal to pedants up and down the country who decry the misuse of the word “decimate”. The new policy would seek to re-establish the correct usage by sending out ‘Decimation Orders’ to one in ten of the entire population. Only ONE in TEN, OK?

Secondly, and this is where the Treasury steps in, the assets of those selected for ‘Decimation Orders’ would be appropriated and would provide the wherewithal to fund frontline public services into the future.

Selection for decimation would be almost entirely random and individuals would be selected from a new fit-for-purpose government database loaded with names from the electoral rolls weighted, where possible, by returns from selected tellers at polling stations. The thinking here is that it would place an unnecessarily heavy burden on Britain’s land-fill capacity for decimation orders to go to people whose relationship with assets is mainly to envy other people’s.

Cool, eh?

Shero said...

people need to realise that a person who makes False Allegations regarding rape can be paid compensation £11,000 and should on appeal or other be found guilty of their lies they keep the compensation paid to them! Therefore who covers the cost of the Police investigation and trial hearing? You are lucky if the liar gets a 12 month sentence whereas an innocent accused of such crime can be imprisoned for 8 years.
The youth of our tainted modern society know its a quick way of gaining financial reward and with no remorse or thought for the innocent person whose lives they have ruined.
We all need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Sam said...

I would agree that civil compensation claims should be limited like criminal ones.

Don't be daft. Whilst there may be some excess in the amount of compensation that is awarded for hurt feelings in civil cases, you can't compare the two.

In a civil case, if you do me some wrong, I sue you to obtain recompense. You don't get to weasel out of paying just because the cost is bigger than some arbitrary number. If, for example, you are responsible for me losing the use of my legs, you are going to be on the hook for the full cost of adapting my house, car etc. to meet my new circumstances, for the loss of earnings that I face because I can't do my job properly if I can't walk, and we haven't even began to talk about punitive damages. You are responsible - you must pay.

The criminal injuries compensation scheme is different. If I am injured by some criminal it is always open to me to sue the criminal for the full value of my injuries, but criminals by and large don't have much cash, and don't carry insurance. So the taxpayer steps in and makes a small award. The taxpayer cannot possibly reimburse the full economic damage to every injured person - we can't afford it. What we can do is to make a small award that will help a person deal with their injuries. If you are injured by a criminal, the government is not responsible.

Now, it's entirely fair and reasonable that such government compensation only be paid out to innocent victims. If a couple of local scumbags get into an argument over their ill-gotten gains, resulting in the injury of one of them, it is reasonable that no compensation is paid by the taxpayer - the injury has occurred as a result of the criminal behaviour of the victim.

If the victim's crimes aren't related to his injury, their mere existence shouldn't alter any compensation.

So if a convicted paedophile gets beaten up for being a pervert, no compo. If he gets paralyzed by a stray bullet in a bank robbery, he gets compensation.

The article contains an entirely fatuous comment about "speeders who have cost the taxpayer money should have their payouts reduced". The two should be completely unconnected. If speeders are costing the taxpayers so much money, maybe we should either be increasing the fines or decreasing the amount of money we spend on chasing speeders.

Say, Hairy Apist is beaten up by screws and sues the MoJ and wins damages. Straw now wants to take this compo from him and give it to his rape victim.

This is entirely reasonable. Your rapist should indeed be required to compensate his victim. In the case of a wealthy rapist, there isn't a problem - he can pay. The fact that a rapist happens to be poor doesn't affect his culpability - just his ability to pay at the time he goes to court.

So here's my plan. At the time of conviction, the court makes an order for compensation that is completely independent of the means of the criminal. If you're dragged into the bushes and raped by a beggar or by a billionaire, the figure is going to be the same. The billionaire will pay. The beggar obviously can't afford it, so he gets a big lien instead, which he will have to start paying off in the future if he comes into some money.

Conveniently enough, there is already a government scheme that runs something like that - it's the student loan scheme. It shouldn't be too hard to make something similar work for criminals.