The BBC drama series "Dark Money" starts on Monday 8th July. The series tells the story of an ordinary family who discover that their young son has been a victim of sexual abuse and how it affects the whole family. This is up there with any parent's worst nightmare. What would you do? How would you react? I would want to protect my child and to stop the person responsible for being able to do the same to anyone else. I would report the person to the police. I would look for justice.
What should you do if you found out your child had been a victim of sexual abuse?
Did you know that a government fund exists to provide compensation to victims of sexual abuse, both children and adults? This money could be invaluable for helping victims, for example to pay for private counselling, or therapy. A parent, or legal guardian, can make a claim for compensation on behalf of a child. You may be able to use this money for therapy, or secure it in trust until the child turns 18 years old.
How to make a compensation claim on behalf of a child
To make a compensation claim for a child from the CICA (the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority) parents need to make sure the abuse was reported to the police and have a Crime Reference Number. When reporting the offence to the police make sure to give them all the information as it is the police evidence the CICA will use to assess the compensation award. The CICA will also require a copy of the child's birth certificate. If you do not have this you can order a copy online from https://www.gov.uk/order-copy-birth-death-marriage-certificate. The CICA are a government body, and the wheels turn slowly. You can instruct a legal representative to act on your behalf in the process. This relieves the stress of dealing with the claim first hand and gives you the benefit of their expertise throughout the process.
When the CICA have assessed the police evidence, they may make an award of compensation at that point, or they may request medical evidence, depending on the case.
Getting help from a CICA solicitor
Having a legal representative on your side can be invaluable at the point of a formal decision being made by the CICA as they will know how the review process works, and how you can appeal a decision if you need to. CICA claims can go through the court system, in the same way a dispute with an employer would. If you are unhappy, even after the point of a review the case can go to a Tribunal.
The compensation award by the CICA will be based on a fixed tariff system, as set out in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (2012). Please see our CICA calculator for a guide as to what you could claim.
Whatever you decide to do, as a parent, you always want to act in the best interests of your child. I will be watching the BBC drama series closely to see how the story unfolds.