Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Failed by the System Which Is Now Penalising Sanctuary Abuse Victim - MP's Fury

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Failed by the System Which Is Now Penalising Sanctuary Abuse Victim - MP's Fury

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN WALKER Political Editor jonathan.walker@trinitymirror.com

A HELPLESS victim of the Operation Sanctuary sex abuse scandal has been denied compensation because she has a criminal conviction, it has been revealed.

The Ministry of Justice has promised to investigate after the case was raised by Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah.

One victim, whose attacker was convicted as part of Operation Sanctuary, was denied compensation because she had spent time in juvenile detention as a result of the abuse itself.

Under present rules, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), which is responsible for providing compensation, routinely rejects claims from victims if they have a conviction for anything except the most minor crime.

Ms Onwurah said: "We are calling for the rules to be changed to ensure that a victim of sex abuse is entitled to compensation."

Northumbria Police secured the convictions of more than 90 offenders as part of Operation Sanctuary, an investigation into rape and sexual abuse in Newcastle and the North East.

And this included Operation Shelter, in which 18 people were convicted of abusing Newcastle's most vulnerable girls and women, some as young as 14.

The specific case raised by Ms Onwurah in the House of Commons involved a woman who suffered emotional distress as a result of the abuse.

She said: "Girls and vulnerable women were subject to horrendous abuse and rape by a sexual exploitation gang in Newcastle.

"Some of the perpetrators were recently convicted as part of Operation Sanctuary, but there are victims who feel that they have not had justice.

"I know of at least one who has been denied compensation for horrific abuse, because of time spent in juvenile detention as a consequence of that abuse.

"Does the Minister think that is just? If not, will he amend the criminal injuries compensation scheme to ensure justice?" Justice Minister Phillip Lee promised to look into the case once Ms Onwurah provided full details privately. …

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