Dog Bite Compensation To Go?

Government announces plans to cut compensation payments for victims of violent dog attacks under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, which was set up in 1964, makes compensation payments to those who are physically injured by violent criminal acts.

The Coalition Government now proposes to make savage cuts to this crucial compensation through proposals set out by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

Significantly for CWU Members – Under the plans, the victims of dog attacks would no longer be able to claim for compensation unless the 'animal

itself was deliberately used to attack a person or in other words was set upon the victim to inflict an injury on that person'.

Their plans also mean that victims who would have received compensation under the scheme of £2,000 or less will now get nothing for all injuries.

Compensation payments under £11,000 will also be significantly reduced, whilst payments of £11,000 or more will not be affected.

MoJ officials stated in their consultation paper they do not believe that small compensation payments after the event are the most effective way to help victims recover from the effects of crime and that the more minor injuries will be catered for by the NHS and that government will invest more money in support services for victims, available at the point of need.'

CWU National Health, Safety & Environment Officer Dave Joyce who has been spearheading the Union's 'Bite-Back' Campaign said "Many CWU members who are dog attack victims face a situation where the owner is uninsured and has no money. Dog attack claims can involve people suffering permanent injuries and scarring, which often has a damaging impact on their lives. It is only right that dog attack victims are allowed to bring valid claims for redress. Equally, victims with serious injury may need to take several months off work in order to recover from it."

Dave added "Pay-outs from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) contrast starkly with the amounts awarded by the civil courts, which often run into five or six figures. Many people who have suffered physical and psychological harm as victims of dog attacks and other crimes of violence will lose their rights to claim compensation and others will receive substantially reduced compensation payments, as a result of these

proposed changes. Any alterations to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme need to be scrutinised carefully to ensure that claimants do not lose out on compensation which they deserve. These proposed changes will restrict access to a form of justice for those who have been injured in dog attacks through no fault of their own."

The CWU response to the proposals has strongly opposed the CICS changes, pointing out that regularly in cases where an irresponsible dog owner's vicious aggressive and uncontrolled dog severely injures a Postal Worker, the Owner has no Third Party Insurance and no money in the bank or assets. Victims in such cases go finally to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme as a last resort but soon there will be no compensation there  either if these proposals are not withdrawn.

Dave concluded "The Government, in its reforms of civil justice, must stop to consider the needs of innocent victims and recognise that they need and deserve full and proper compensation. But by cutting crime victims compensation, the MoJ is cutting their access to justice."

Under the previous Labour Government, Groups representing victims of crime had welcomed a Government overhaul of the criminal injuries system which increased Compensation pay-outs for many types of injury by 10%.

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