1st October 2014

Question

I was abused in Medomsley Detention Centre in the 1970s. I saw a TV programme recently about abuse in one of these places and it brought back a lot of memories. I have never told anyone about what happened. Is it too late to claim compensation?

Answer

You may be able to claim compensation from the Ministry of Justice who were responsible for running the detention centre or alternatively the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

You should report the abuse to the police as soon as possible. Before giving a full statement to the police I suggest that you write down as many details as you can remember – dates, names and locations etc.

Legal Aid may be available in relation to a claim against the detention centre and you may wish to contact a solicitor to discuss this further.

The question of whether you are ‘too late’ to claim compensation really depends on the facts of each individual case. Generally speaking the law only allows 3 years to pursue a claim for compensation for personal injury. The 3 year period starts from the date of the incident or in the case of a child their 18th birthday. I note that the abuse happened in the 1970’s and therefore you are technically out of time, unless you have a medical condition which means you lack capacity.

The general 3 year limit can be extended by the Court in certain circumstances where it is just and equitable (i.e. fair) to do so.

Legal Aid isn’t available for Criminal Injuries claims anymore however many solicitors are willing to work on the basis that they are paid a percentage of any compensation awarded by the CICA.

The CICA has a 2 year limitation period within which applications must be made however they also have a general discretion to disapply that time limit where there is a good reason for the delay. For abuse which was reported to the police under the age of 18 the 2 years starts to run at the age of 18. For abuse suffered before the age of 18 and reported after the age of 18 the 2 year period begins to run from the date of the report.

The CICA have very strict criteria which they will consider before making any award of compensation. This includes for example whether or not you have criminal convictions which could reduce the amount of compensation you receive or bar you from getting compensation at all. Again a solicitor specialising in this field will be able to advise you about this.

My strong advice is that you must not delay further.


 

Please note that this advice was correct at the time of writing. However there may have been changes in the law or procedure since that date. If you are in doubt you should obtain up to date legal advice.