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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 February, 2004, 11:17 GMT
11,000 Soham pay-outs condemned
The Chapmans and the Wells
Soham familes will get a fraction of the maximum payout
Victims' groups have condemned 11,000 government compensation entitlements for the families of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells as "a pittance".

It is expected the families will apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, which has a 500,000 limit.

But under the scheme's guidelines the parents of child murder victims receive only a fraction of that.

The Victims of Crime Trust called on the government to increase the pay-outs to more than a "token" amount.

The group's operations director, Clive Elliott, said: "The families should be given probably 100 times as much because, let's face it, they have to live with this tragedy for the entirety of their lives.

"This is only supposed to be a token but it should be more than a token.

"Murder destroys far more than just the victim's life, it destroys the lives of families and communities and it's about time the government raised its level of payments to victims' families."

'Token of sympathy'

Murder destroys far more than just the victim's life, it destroys the lives of families and communities
Clive Elliott
Victims of Crime Trust

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is run by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and funded by the Home Office.

The 11,000 figure Holly and Jessica's families will receive is the same as for a victim of crime who loses an ear or two fingers.

The Wells and Chapmans could also be entitled to "reasonable" extra payments to cover funeral costs.

Under the scheme, a maximum figure of 500,000 can be reached by someone who is seriously debilitated and claims for loss of earnings and care costs as well as compensation.

Supporters of the scheme argue that the sum should not be seen as the value of Holly and Jessica's lives but as a "token of public sympathy".

The Home Office pays out more than 200 million a year under the scheme to thousands of victims and says it is one of the "most generous" such systems in the world.

Holly and Jessica, both aged 10, disappeared from Soham, in Cambridgeshire, in August 2002.

Ian Huntley, 29, was jailed for life last year for murdering the two schoolgirls and his former girlfriend, Maxine Carr, 26, was given three-and-a-half years for conspiring to pervert the course of justice.


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