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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Accountability and Reparations Investigation Report

D.2: Criminal compensation orders

2. A criminal compensation order (CCO) requires a person convicted of an offence to pay money to the victim of that offence for personal injury, loss or damage arising from it.[1] The underlying purpose of a CCO is that offenders pay for the damage that they have caused, as a form of reparation.[2]

3. Recent data provided by the Ministry of Justice show that only around 0.02 percent of CCOs relate to child sexual abuse cases.[3]

Table 1: Ministry of Justice data about criminal compensation orders (CCOs)

  Total number
of CCOs
Number of child sexual abuse offenders CCOs in child sexual abuse cases
2017 124,835 6,861 26
2016 146,789 7,155 28
2015 147,982 5,822 29
2014 147,292 4,956 28
2013 150,372 4,356 30

The courts’ powers

4. The criminal courts have had the power to make CCOs since 1973.[4] This power is now governed by sections 130 to 134 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 (the Act). Under the Act, the court must consider making a CCO where it has the power to do so, and must give reasons if it does not. It is not necessary for an application to be made by the prosecution on behalf of the victim.[5]

5. CCOs are intended to provide “a convenient and rapid means of avoiding the expense of resort to civil litigation when the criminal clearly has means which would enable the compensation to be paid”.[6]

6. The courts have made clear that CCOs should only be used in simple and straightforward cases, where the amount of compensation can easily be calculated.[7] This practice is also reflected in the guidance given in the Adult Court Bench Book, which is used in the Magistrates’ Courts.[8] The court should not embark on a detailed inquiry into the extent of any injury, loss or damage. If such an inquiry is necessary, it may be more appropriate for the victim to bring a claim in the civil courts where proper medical reports can be considered.[9] As the court can only consider submissions made by the prosecution and offender – not the victim – it is not considered appropriate to have complex compensation proceedings determining the entitlements of the victim.[10]

7. The courts have also made clear that CCOs should not be made if there is no realistic possibility of compliance. This might be, for example, because the offender has very limited means[11] or because he or she is serving a custodial sentence and will not have the resources to pay within a foreseeable period of release[12] and may be encouraged to commit further offences in order to do so.[13]

The process of making a CCO

8. CCOs are dealt with during the sentencing process, and the prosecution is to assist the court by making it aware of all relevant information. The prosecutor is obliged to draw the court’s attention to its powers to award compensation and invite it to make an order, where appropriate.[14]

9. The Sentencing Council’s guidelines for the Magistrates’ Courts state that compensation should benefit, not inflict further harm on, the victim. It advises that assumptions should not be made as to whether or not a victim wants compensation from the offender, and that the victim’s views should be obtained by the police or witness care unit. If the victim does not want compensation, this should be made known to the court and respected.[15]

10. If a victim or survivor does want a CCO to be made, the prosecutor should seek supporting evidence from the police.[16] The police should therefore draw the possibility of compensation to a victim’s attention and gather the necessary information.[17] Factors relevant to compensation may be included in the Victim Personal Statement,[18] and in the MG19 compensation form provided to victims, in which the basis of a claim for compensation can be set out and provided to the court.[19] The College of Policing’s guidance (issued in 2013) states that the police should supply the MG19 compensation claim form as soon as possible after a defendant has been charged.[20]

11. If the court is considering making a CCO, it should first indicate that it is minded to do so and then give a provisional figure of compensation.[21] It is not the responsibility of the prosecution to establish the defendant’s means and the court will usually look to the defence counsel to provide information about the means of the defendant.[22]

12. The Magistrates’ and Crown Courts have procedures for establishing the financial means of defendants. In the Magistrates’ Courts, a defendant must provide such information in a form known as the MC100, which states that it is an offence to make a false statement or knowingly fail to disclose material facts.[23] In the Crown Court, the judge can direct a defendant to provide a statement as to his or her financial means and, if necessary, order disclosure of relevant documents.[24]

13. Where the court is not satisfied that it has been given sufficient, reliable information, the court is entitled to draw reasonable inferences as to the defendant’s means and ability to pay a CCO.[25]

14. A compensation order may be made where the defendant has to borrow money in order to pay it. However, there must be sufficient material before the court to conclude that there are sound prospects that the defendant can repay the loan.[26] A CCO may be appropriate even where its effect is to force the sale of the matrimonial or family home.[27]

Amounts of compensation

15. In determining whether to make a CCO and the amount under such an order, the court should consider the offender’s means so far as they appear, or are known to the court.[28] The amount of compensation is what the court considers appropriate, having regard to any evidence and representations made by, or on behalf of, the offender or the prosecutor.[29]

16. There is no limit to the compensation that can be ordered, except where the Magistrates’ Court is dealing with an offender under the age of 18.[30] However, the compensation should not exceed the sum that would be awarded by a court in civil proceedings.[31]

17. The Sentencing Council’s guidelines for the Magistrates’ Courts[32] state that courts should consider two types of loss:

17.1. Financial loss sustained as a result of the offence, for example, any loss of earnings or medical expenses.

17.2. Pain and suffering caused by the injury, which should be assessed in light of all factors that appear to the court to be relevant, including any medical evidence, the victim’s age and their personal circumstances. This can include distress and anxiety, although sums in respect of this alone are likely to be modest.[33]

The guidelines include starting points for some offences arising out of physical and sexual abuse, in line with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority tariff. For example, the starting point for non-penetrative sexual acts over clothing is £1,000.[34]

18. However, most cases of this type will be dealt with in the Crown Court, which may consider the tariffs set out in the guidelines for Magistrates’ Courts.[35]

19. If a victim or survivor later makes a civil claim in respect of any injury, loss or damage previously compensated by a CCO, the resulting damages will be reduced by the amount of the CCO that has been paid.[36] If a victim or survivor makes a CICA claim, their compensation will be reduced where the court has made a CCO, even if it is never in fact paid.[37]


20. CCOs can be paid in instalments, but the full compensation must be paid within a reasonable time. This will ordinarily be up to three years, although there is no strict limit.[38]

21. There is no data on whether the sums awarded in CCOs are ever in fact paid.[39] However, Melissa Case, Director of Criminal and Family Justice Policy at the Ministry of Justice, acknowledged that there may be issues of enforcement.[40]

22. Generally, CCOs are enforced in the same manner as any financial penalty imposed by the court, ie by a collection order. Non-payment of CCOs is dealt with in line with any other default on a criminal financial imposition.[41] Penalties may include a period of imprisonment.[42]

The use of CCOs in child sexual abuse cases

23. None of the victims and survivors from whom we heard in this investigation told us that they received CCOs at the conclusion of criminal proceedings arising from their abuse.

23.1. There were no applications for CCOs at the conclusion of John Allen’s trial in 2014.[43] The Crown Prosecution Service told us they were unable to ascertain whether compensation was applied for by the prosecutor, following conviction.[44] Some victims and survivors said, in retrospect, that they would have wanted the court to make a CCO even if it was never going to be paid.[45] AR-A1 did not recall being asked whether he wanted a CCO, but thought one should have been made:

“I know that John Allen may have been considered at that time as a man of straw, but for me, if he’d have owned a gold watch, then he should have sold it and gave it to the 19 of us. It was about the principle of him being held to be accountable to us in some way.”[46]

23.2. During Operation Pallial, only one CCO was made. This was against an individual who was convicted of child cruelty and not given a custodial sentence. The order was for £500. Philip Marshall, a Senior Investigating Officer for the National Crime Agency, said that, in all the other cases, following contact with the Crown Prosecution Service and the prosecution, decisions were taken not to apply to the courts for CCOs because the offenders were receiving significant custodial sentences.[47]

23.3. Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Deborah Marsden, of Devon and Cornwall Police, told us that the manager of her witness care unit had no recollection of a CCO being made for sexual offences by the courts in her force’s area.[48] Some victims and survivors from Forde Park reported that they did not give evidence during the criminal trials and they therefore could not have received a CCO.[49]

23.4. There were no CCOs made in the prosecutions arising from Operation Mapperton. Daniel O’Malley, a former detective inspector with the Metropolitan Police Service and Senior Investigating Officer with the Paedophile Unit at New Scotland Yard, could not recall any instance in his experience as a police officer in which a CCO had been made.[50]

23.5. Paul Connolly, a victim and survivor of St Leonard’s, could not recall any mention of getting a CCO against any abuser. He reflected that he would not want such compensation now but at the time he might have accepted it. He would have needed it, even if he had not wanted it.[51]

23.6. The police officers who gave evidence to us about the investigations into abuse at St Aidan’s and St Vincent’s did not know whether CCOs had ever been made. Acting Deputy Chief Constable Darren Martland of Cheshire Constabulary had no specific knowledge of CCOs in child abuse cases and did not know whether such data were kept.[52] Deputy Chief Constable Serena Kennedy of Merseyside Police did not have information on the use of CCOs and could not recall assisting the Crown Prosecution Service with a CCO.[53]

23.7. There were no criminal prosecutions arising out of the abuse at Stanhope Castle and so there were no CCOs.

24. Witnesses told us that there were a number of possible reasons for the low numbers of CCOs in child sexual abuse cases.

24.1. Melissa Case acknowledged that there might be a lack of awareness on the part of victims and survivors.[54] We note that there is no mention of CCOs in the Victims’ Code.

24.2. Melissa Case also said that there might be a lack of awareness or training on the part of the judiciary. She commented that further investigation was needed to see “whether there’s something else going on”, for example whether decisions not to make orders are due to the offender’s lack of means[55] (some offenders will be given custodial sentences) or reflect a lack of specialist knowledge of torts or damages.[56]

24.3. The Crown Prosecution Service’s view is that applications for CCOs are normally based on loss or damage that is easily quantifiable, such as theft or criminal damage. This point was also made by Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Neill Anderson of North Wales Police.[57] By contrast, convictions arising out of child sexual abuse are less likely to lead to CCOs because they are more difficult to quantify and a remedy is more likely to come from other avenues, such as civil claims or the CICA.[58] As a result of this, North Wales Police now focus on advising victims about the CICA.[59] Assistant Chief Constable David Orford of Durham Constabulary also acknowledged the perception that child sexual abuse cases were different from other types of cases.[60]

24.4. There may also be a lack of awareness among police officers.[61] Even where police officers are aware of CCOs, they may consider that CCOs are not suited to cases of child sexual abuse. The MG19 form used for setting out the details of a compensation claim focuses on personal losses such as stolen or damaged property rather than damage caused by abuse.[62] Deborah Marsden told us that the form did not invite police officers to consider its application to child sexual abuse cases.[63] The same point was made by Detective Chief Superintendent Craig Turner of the Metropolitan Police.[64] Melissa Case noted that there is minimal guidance in the criminal courts equivalent to that in the civil courts to assist in the compensation process.[65]


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