Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

Red tape 'hampers crime victims'

Police officers
The Tories say police are pursuing too many minor crimes

Victims of violent crimes are put off claiming compensation by complex forms and too much bureaucracy, MPs suggest.

Less than 5% of those eligible for sums of up to 500,000 are applying, the Commons public accounts committee said.

Two-thirds of victims are unaware of the scheme which covers England, Wales and Scotland, it added.

The committee said that last year there was a backlog of more than 80,000 cases. But the government claimed the system had improved since 2006.

Committee chairman Edward Leigh said compensation was a "low priority" for ministers.

Targets

The committee found many victims of violent crime spent money on expensive lawyers because they did not know free legal help was on offer.

The report, Compensating Victims of Violent Crime, criticises the Ministry of Justice for failing to set the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) rigorous targets.