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Monday, 19 February, 2001, 22:37 GMT
Straw unveils compensation details
Jack Straw gives his keynote speech in Glasgow
Jack Straw outlined the plans at Labour's Spring conference
The details of a new government package to compensate victims of crime have been unveiled.

The minimum award for rape victims will be increased from 7,500 to 11,000 and people who suffer multiple injuries will receive higher sums.

Compensation for many types of injury will go up by 10%, including severe burns to 33,000 and loss of a hand or arm to 44,000.

Home Secretary, Jack Straw outlined his intention to reform the Criminal Injuries Compensation System (CICS) at the Labour party's spring conference in Glasgow on Saturday.

The announcement on Monday gave precise details of the new tariffs.

Lisa Potts
Lisa Potts: "Disappointed" with payout
Gay couples will have the same rights as heterosexuals for the first time, becoming eligible to claim a cash pay-out if their partner is killed.

A new category will allow people infected with HIV or Aids to receive a 22,000 pay-out, the same tariff as loss of sight in one eye, loss of a kidney or rape with severe injuries.

Other injuries have been reclassified, so those who suffered severe child sex abuse can receive 8,200, up from 6,000, and those disfigured by facial scarring can get 4,400, up from 3,500.

Mr Straw said the package will cost an estimated 20m a year on top of the scheme's 200m annual budget.

Pay-outs from the CICS contrast starkly with the amounts awarded by the civil courts, which often run into six figures.

Machete attack

Earlier this month nursery nurse Lisa Potts, who shielded children from a machete-wielding attacker, was bitterly disappointed to learn she would receive just 49,000 for her terrible injuries.

The system pays a fixed amount, or tariff, for each type of wound but has been criticised because each victim can only be compensated for three injuries, no matter how many they receive.

The full tariff is granted for the most serious wound, 10% for the second most serious and 5% for the third.

Mr Straw said the formula would increase to 100%, 30% and 15% but people who have suffered multiple injuries will still only be able to claim for three of them.

I want victims of crime to have a greater confidence that we are looking after their interests and listening to their concerns

Jack Straw
Miss Potts, 25, suffered 11 serious wounds as she protected the youngsters during a teddy bear's picnic at St Luke's Church of England infants school in Wolverhampton, blocking machete blows to one child's face with her own arm.

Awarded the George Medal for her bravery, her union dismissed the award from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority as "pitiful".

She received 20,000 for "permanent mental disorder", 250 for scarring to her body and 750 for reduced grip in her left arm, plus about 29,000 for loss of earnings.

Three weeks ago another victim of the machete attack, eight-year-old Francesca Quintyne, had her compensation tripled to 23,000 by an appeals panel.

'Generous and comprehensive'

Mr Straw said: "I want victims of crime to have a greater confidence that we are looking after their interests and listening to their concerns.

"Our action to change the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme demonstrates our commitment to ensure victims are better served by the criminal justice system, which for too long has overlooked their needs and interests."

The proposed changes to the CICS will now be put to Parliament for approval and are expected to come into force from 1 April.

The government says the CICS is one of the most generous and comprehensive of its type in the world, citing the US counterpart which paid out about 180m to more than 115,000 victims in 1999/2000, the year when 43,000 British victims received 206m.

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17 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Cash boost for crime victims
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