You may be able to get compensation if you're a victim of violent crime
If you become a victim of crime, you may be able to get financial compensation in a number of ways.
If an offender is convicted of a crime against you, the court may order them to pay you compensation. You can be compensated for a range of thing such as:
- personal injury
- losses from theft or damage to property
- losses from fraud
- being off work
- medical expenses
- travel expenses
- pain and suffering
- or loss, damage or injury caused to or by a stolen vehicle.
If you want the court to consider awarding you compensation in this way, you need to tell the police. As part of the process, you will need to give them details about the loss or damage you've suffered. The police will give this information to the Crown Prosecution Service, who will then make the request in court.
If the court decides to order the offender to pay you compensation, it will be limited to what the offender can afford and may depend on the sentence the court has already passed. For example, the court will not usually order an offender to pay compensation if they are being sent to prison. The compensation may not cover the full cost of your damage or loss and often the offender will be able to pay it in instalments. The offender makes the payments to the court, which will then pass the money on to you. The court is responsible for making sure that the offender pays the compensation.
If you have any questions about the compensation ordered by the court, you should speak to the clerk of the court or the court manager, and not to the offender.
Criminal injuries compensation
If you have been injured by a violent crime, you can apply for compensation under the government's criminal injuries compensation scheme.
When this scheme was created it was not intended to literally compensate someone for their injuries but instead to be "an expression of public sympathy for innocent victims of violent crime." It does not matter whether the offender has been caught, but there are other rules which affect your chances of getting any money. The process can be complicated and time consuming, but we can explain how the system works and help you to make a claim. We can give you an application form and guidance documents and can help you to fill out the form. If your claim is rejected and you decide to appeal, we can often help with that too. Many legal firms offer to help with claims for criminal injuries compensation but most charge a fee - we'll help you free of charge.
If you want to make a claim, remember that you will have to go over the details of the crime again. Some people find this upsetting but we can help support you emotionally as well as practically during the application process.
To qualify for compensation you need to claim within two years of the crime being committed. You must also have reported the crime to the police as soon as possible. You can claim for both physical or mental injury - but only mental injuries that are defined as a recognised psychiatric or psychological illness are covered by the scheme.
You can get more information and application forms directly from Gov.uk: compensation for victims or by calling their helpline on 0300 003 3601.
How we can help
Our volunteers can give you information about any compensation you might be able to claim. They can help you to understand the process, including reasons why a claim might be rejected, and help you with the paperwork. They will also be on hand to support you if you get upset or find it hard to write down details about what you've been through. The service is free and confidential.
For more information and support contact your local office. You should also be aware than many legal firms advertise compensation services for victims, including 'no win, no fee' schemes. Sometimes there are hidden costs so it's worth getting independent advice before you sign anything.
For people on very low incomes, temporary relief is available from the Hardship Fund.