Children who have been sexually exploited are being refused compensation by a government agency on the grounds they ‘consented’ to their abuse.

Child sexual abuse victims as young as 12 are being denied compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), even if their attackers have been jailed.

Victim Support, along with Barnardo’sLibertyRape Crisis and the National Working Group (NWG), have written to the justice secretary David Lidington, demanding the government urgently reviews CICA’s guidelines.

Since the CICA scheme launched in November 2012, nearly 700 child victims of sexual abuse have been refused payments ranging from £1,000 to £44,000, according to a freedom of information request by the charity coalition.

The law states it’s a crime to have sexual activity with someone under the age of 16 — but this is not reflected in compensation decisions. Payment rules are being interpreted to suggest children can consent to their abuse.

We’re calling for the rules to be changed so no child groomed and manipulated into sexual abuse is denied compensation because they complied with their abuse through fear, lack of understanding, or being brainwashed into believing their abuser loved them.

New YouGov polling shows two thirds of people (66%) think the rules should be amended so a child cannot be found to have ‘consented’ to activities involved in their sexual exploitation.

Victim Support’s chief executive, Mark Castle said:

It is ridiculous, nonsensical and morally wrong to pretend that a child has consented to sexual abuse and to then use this as an excuse not to pay compensation. Any child that suffers sexual abuse is a victim — full stop.

We call upon ministers to urgently bring about change to CICA’s guidelines so that these young people are treated fairly. They have already suffered horrendously and to be told they will not receive a payment because they willingly participated in their abuse is awful and extremely upsetting for them to hear.

Kate, a victim of child sexual abuse, was denied compensation by CICA. She said:

This letter, which was very cold and business like, seemed to imply I was somehow responsible for the abuse I suffered. I was 14 when this happened. How could I have consented? I was a child.

Read Kate’s story.

If you’ve been affected by sexual abuse or violence, you can contact Victim Support for free and confidential support.