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State Compensation as Rape Justice: Are Public Attitudes a Legitimate Foundation for Reform of the UK’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme?

Smith, Olivia and Daly, Ellen and Charlotte, Herriott and Willmott, Dominic (2020) State Compensation as Rape Justice: Are Public Attitudes a Legitimate Foundation for Reform of the UK’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme? Journal of Gender-Based Violence. ISSN 2398-6808 (In Press)

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Abstract

The State’s mechanism for compensating victim-survivors of sexual offences has been critiqued as retraumatising. However, a recent review preliminarily rejected calls to loosen the eligibility rules, stating that the current criteria reflect public attitudes. This article outlines the first empirical study of public opinion on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme [CICS], drawing on data from over 2000 survey participants. The findings show ambivalence among members of the public, but also reveal the current rules are not strongly supported and are in some cases highly unpopular. The article then examines some difficulties with relying on public opinion for criminal justice reform, and ultimately argues that there are stronger justifications for reforming the CICS than popularity with the public. Specifically, loosening the eligibility criteria would create more legitimate policy through the protection of core societal values such as fairness and dignity.

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