Children being refused compensation because of abuse 'consent', say charities
Children who have been sexually exploited are being refused compensation by a Government agency on the grounds that they "consented" to their abuse, according to campaigners.
They say victims as young as 12 have been denied payouts even if the perpetrators have been jailed.
A coalition of charities including Barnardo's and Victim Support have written to the Justice Secretary calling for an urgent review of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority's guidelines.
They want rules on how awards are decided to be changed, arguing that they conflict with the position in law that the legal of age of consent is 16.
Javed Khan, chief executive of Barndardo's, said: "For children to be denied compensation on the grounds that they 'consented' to the abuse they have suffered is nothing short of scandalous.
"The very rules that are supposed to protect children are actually harming them.
"The Government must urgently review CICA's guidelines so that young victims receive the redress they deserve. Ministers must guarantee that no child will ever be told that they consented to their own abuse."
Victims can be eligible for payouts of up to £500,000 under the criminal injuries compensation scheme.
It is open to applications from those who sustain a criminal injury "directly attributable to their being a direct victim of a crime of violence".
A "crime of violence" can include a sexual assault to which a person did not "in fact" consent.
Mark Castle, chief executive of Victim Support, said: "It is ridiculous, nonsensical and morally wrong to pretend that a child has consented to sexual abuse and to then use this as an excuse not to pay compensation.
"Any child that suffers sexual abuse is a victim – full stop."