Usdaw takes fight to save compensation for injured crime victims into Parliament

Date: 16 October 2012 The shopworkers' Union Usdaw is taking the fight to save compensation for injured victims of violent crime into the heart of Parliament.

At an event taking place at 10.00am on Wednesday 17 October, Usdaw, together with victims of violent crime and other campaigners will tell MPs and Lords how important the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is in helping innocent victims come through their ordeal and get back on their feet.

In addition to victims of violent crime, confirmed speakers at the event currently include; John Hannett, General Secretary of Usdaw; Ellie Cumbo, Victims Services Advocate of Victim Support, Paul McKeever, Chairman of the Police Federation; Shane Brennan, Public Affairs Director of the Association of Convenience Stores; Karl Tonks, President of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers; Paul Brown, Principal Solicitor/Chief Executive of the Legal Services Agency; and Neil Sugarman, delegate to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority Policy and Equality Forum.

Victims of violent crime speaking at the event will include;

  • Frankie King, a shopworker who was stabbed and robbed by two men while on his way to work in an incident that 'turned his world upside down' and meant he was unable to work for nearly a year.
  • Albena Toneva, a shopworker hit unconscious by a customer who returned to her store in order to assault her and who suffered post traumatic stress disorder as a result.
  • Mark Miller, who was hospitalised for two-and-a-half months and was left with a brain injury following a random attack in which three youths repeatedly punched, kicked and stamped on him.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme awards compensation to over 30,000 people each year who are seriously injured following a crime of violence. Cuts to the scheme proposed by the Tory-led Coalition will mean half of victims will receive nothing in future and almost 90% will lose out, including the most seriously injured and even the children of murder victims.

The Government has scheduled a second attempt to force through cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme by 22 October and a revised and drastically weakened Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme could be in place as early as 5 November.

Usdaw hopes new Justice Minister Chris Grayling will stop the cuts, but if not, the Union is demanding that both Houses of Parliament have a full and proper opportunity to debate and scrutinise any revised scheme before it is implemented.

Speaking ahead of the event, Usdaw General Secretary John Hannett said:

"While Usdaw and other campaigners have already sent out briefings and spoken to numerous Parliamentarians about these deeply misguided proposals, we hope MPs and Lords will take the opportunity on Wednesday to hear directly what victims of violent crime think about them.

"We remain optimistic that the cuts can be stopped because many MPs and Lords we have spoken to, and those who fully understand the detail and implications of the cuts, are horrified that they were ever considered in the first place.

"If the Coalition is truly serious about putting victims of crime first, then it should immediately scrap the proposed cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme."

Notes for Editors:

  1. The event will take place in Committee Room 19 of the House of Commons from 10.00am to 11.30am on Wednesday 17 October.
  2. Labour MP Tony Lloyd has secured a Westminster Hall debate on Victims and the Criminal Justice System which will also take place on Wednesday 17 October, between 2.30pm and 4.00pm. The issue of cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme will be raised and there will be a Ministerial response at the conclusion of the debate.
  3. A revised Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme was due to come into force on 30 September, but Justice Minister Helen Grant was forced to withdraw it after it was savaged by both Conservative and Labour MPs in Committee on 10 September. The proceedings of the Committee can be heard at: www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=11385  and read at: www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/this-weeks-public-bill-general-committee-debates/read/?date=2012-09-10&itemId=126
  4. The Ministry of Justice has re-listed the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme as legislation to be taken before 22 October (see: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmfbusi/c01.htm). This means the scheme and any revisions that ministers choose to make, are scheduled to be considered when the House of Commons returns after the conference season.
  5. The Ministry of Justice has also confirmed that, if the original proposals are adjusted, a further revised scheme could be rushed through both the House of Lords and a House of Commons Delegated Legislation Committee in just one day, allowing little if any opportunity for changes to be scrutinised. The new compensation scheme would then take effect just two weeks after the legislation was passed - by 5 November if the Government table the revised Scheme by 22 October.
  6. Despite the Government continuing to suggest otherwise, the current scheme is already on a sustainable financial footing and not even the most seriously affected victims would receive a penny more from the revised scheme.
  7. For further information on the cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme and Usdaw's campaign against them please visit www.usdaw.org.uk/compensation
  8. Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and fastest growing trade union with over 420,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last 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.

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