State compensation as rape justice: are public attitudes a legitimate foundation for reform of the UK’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme?
journal contributionposted on 2022-01-22, 00:10 authored by Olivia SmithOlivia Smith, Ellen Daly, Charlotte Herriott, Dominic Willmott
The British state’s mechanism for compensating victim-survivors of sexual offences has been critiqued as retraumatising. However, a recent review preliminarily rejected calls to loosen the eligibility rules, stating that the current criteria reflect public attitudes. This article outlines the first empirical study of public opinion on the UK Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS), drawing on data from over 2,000 survey participants. The findings show ambivalence among members of the public, but also reveal the current rules are not strongly supported and are in some cases highly unpopular. The article then examines some difficulties with relying on public opinion for criminal justice reform, and ultimately argues that there are stronger justifications for reforming the CICS than popularity with the public. Specifically, loosening the eligibility criteria would create more legitimate policy through the protection of core societal values such as fairness and dignity.
Contrary to the British Ministry of Justice’s rhetoric, there is not strong public support for the current eligibility rules on the UK Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) for sexual offence victim-survivors.
Women and younger people are more critical of the current CICS eligibility rules, but social grade did not impact public opinions.
Relying on public opinion for CICS reform is problematic, as widening the eligibility is justifiable regardless of lay popularity.
Anglia Ruskin University, School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences HEFCE QR funding.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Criminology, Sociology and Social Policy