C v Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority


Barring a victim of trafficking from obtaining compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), due to non-compliance with the police amounts to a breach of the UK's obligations to victims of trafficking. 

Ms C was trafficked to the UK for the purpose of domestic servitude in August 1999. Ms C was required to work up to 18 hours a day carrying out domestic tasks as well as caring for the trafficker's child. 

Ms C's movements were heavily controlled and she was not allowed to interact with others without the trafficker's express permission. 

During the first year of employment Ms C received payments of £10-£20 every few months but thereafter received no salary at all. When Ms C raised with her trafficker the failure to pay a salary she was told that her trafficker could not afford to pay her but would find her work as a cleaner.

Thereafter, Ms C carried out cleaning work for others on top of her duties for the trafficker, but more often than not was required to hand her wages to her trafficker. In August 2002, Ms C disclosed to one of the families she was cleaning for, her treatment by her traffickers and was assisted to leave her trafficking situation.  

Ms C reported her treatment to the police and gave a witness statement. Following this, Ms C was contacted by her family abroad who had been approached by relatives of the trafficker seeking to locate Ms C and put pressure on her to withdraw her complaints. Threats were made to Ms C's family as to what might happen to them if they did not provide details of Ms C's whereabouts.

Ms C relayed to the police the approaches to her family. As the police in the UK could offer no protection to her family abroad, Ms C concluded that she had no choice but to withdraw her complaints. 

On 18 March 2014 Ms C submitted an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for compensation for her trafficking experience. Ms C relied on Article 17 of the trafficking directive which requires member states to give access to criminal schemes of compensation. The Authority declined to grant an award on the basis that Ms C had, in withdrawing her complaint, failed to comply with a police investigation. 

On 18 November 2015 the First Tier Tribunal heard an appeal of the refusal to award compensation. It was argued on Ms C's behalf that the CICA scheme rules require that a victim co-operate as far as reasonably practicable with a criminal investigation and that Ms C had done this, withdrawing her complaint only due to the fear of retribution.

Further, the  Authority were required to give effect to the UK's EU obligations to victims of trafficking. None of the EU instruments covering the right to obtain compensation require that the victim co-operates with a criminal investigation. 

In contrast, it was argued on behalf of the authority that Ms C need only be given access to the scheme to comply with EU obligations. There was no requirement to set aside the scheme rules in relation to compliance with criminal proceedings. 

On 26 November 2015, having reserved its judgment the First Tier Tribunal found that Ms C had not co-operated as far as reasonably practicable with the criminal investigation, but to bar her from an award on this basis was contrary to EU legislation.