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Five years on and Usdaw stats show that Government reforms to CICS denied compensation for nearly half of workers injured by a criminal

Date: 29 January 2018 Government reforms to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) took effect in November 2012 and stats released by Usdaw today show that applications for compensation by the union on behalf of members injured by a criminal have almost halved, down by 47.4%.
Since the scheme was ‘reformed’ and largely replaced with a ‘hardship fund’ there have been significant increases in attacks on shopworkers. Usdaw’s own survey shows that in 2017, 265 shopworkers were physically attacked every day, up 25% over 2016. The British Retail Consortium reported a 40% increase in attacks on shopworkers. The Office for National Statistics reported last October that there had been an 11% increase in shoplifting, continuing the trend of a 26% increase since 2012.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “The Government claimed they were reforming the scheme to better focus support for victims, but the truth is they have effectively closed the scheme to many, leaving thousands of innocent victims of violent crime without the opportunity of fair compensation.

“The scheme provides recognition for the pain and suffering of the victim, financial assistance and in many cases the receipt of compensation gives a sense of closure on an attack, and helps victims to recover from the trauma.

“Shopworkers can be particularly vulnerable to attack, and it is notable that in the period that claims have halved, reported incidents have significantly increased. With some police forces saying they are having to scale back on their investigations into theft from shops because of budget cuts, coupled with the overuse of fixed penalty notices; it appears this Government simply does not care about the very many shopworkers who are assaulted, threatened and abused for simply doing their job.

“I am shocked by how much damage these changes have done to the way victims are treated. The effects have gone way beyond what we predicted when we campaigned against the Government proposals in 2011. Those cuts meant that victims of violent crime who suffer injuries such as permanent speech impairment, multiple broken ribs, post traumatic epileptic fits or burns and scarring that cause minor facial disfigurement are no longer eligible for any compensation.

“This month the Prime Minister told Parliament that the CICA applies the rules independently of the Government. Ostensibly that is true, but the Government makes the rules and their 2012 changes appear to have had a devastating effect on support for innocent victims of violent crime.

“I have written to the Justice Secretary urging a review, now that the changes have been in place for over 5 years.”

Case studies of Usdaw members who would have qualified for a CICS claim under the old scheme, but have been denied because of Government reforms:
  • An Usdaw member suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after she was approached by an unknown male in her employer's car park, was threatened and her handbag was taken. Fortunately she was not physically assaulted, but had been diagnosed with stress and anxiety compounded by her having to revisit the scene of the crime every time she goes to work.
  • An Usdaw member was the victim of an assault during the course of her duties in a small convenience store. She was threatened by two men in balaclavas with a crow bar. They locked her and 3 colleagues in a kitchen, stole her car keys and car. Our member sustained bruising and was traumatised by the incident. Our member had made a full recovery from the physical injuries within a number of weeks, the psychological injuries are ongoing.
  • An Usdaw member, working in a small supermarket was the victim of an assault. A man demanded money, jumped over the counter and struck the shopworker’s arm with a metal bar; causing a laceration and bruising to his arm for which he self-medicated and he stated he was suffering psychologically.
CICS does not now make awards for psychological injuries unless there’s a diagnosis of a recognised psychological disorder. In these cases the respective GP did not refer the victims to a psychiatrist or psychologist, so CICS claims cannot be made. Under the old scheme they would have been awarded between £1,000 and £2,000.

Usdaw cases (victims of violence/armed robbery) referred to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) each year:
2010 - 253
2011 - 267
2012 - 213
(Government changes to CICS in place from 27.11.12)
2013 - 195 (-8.5%)
2014 - 197 (-7.5%)
2015 - 150 (-29.6%)
2016 - 100 (-53%)
2017 - 102 (-47.4%)

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 28% over the decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

Interim results of the Usdaw’s 2017 survey, based on 1,455 responses, show that  in 2017: 62.34% were verbally abused (an increase of 25%), 40.49% were threatened (an increase of 38%) and 3.23% were assaulted (an increase of 25%), which equals 265 per day. 56.11% had not reported an incident of abuse and 21.79% of shopworkers physically attacked did not report the assault. 79.91% say there needs to be a change in the law to provide better protection for shopworkers. The final results of the 2017 survey will be published in due course.

Prime Minister’s Questions – 17 January 2018, column 877: https://goo.gl/KSwiez

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion
 

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