§ Mr. Charles Clarke
Under the terms of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, the determination of individual applications is entirely a matter for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and the complementary Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel. Ministers do not comment on, or intervene in, decisions in individual cases.
Under the terms of the Scheme, each qualifying relative of a murder victim receives a fixed fatal award (at level 10 of the tariff, or at level 13 if there is only one eligible claimant). Reasonable funeral expenses are also met, and additional (and sometimes very substantial) compensation is paid where there is financial dependency on the victim, or to replace the services of a murdered parent.
Contrary to the impression conveyed by some recent press coverage of this tragic case, the fixed fatal award does not put a 'value' on the life of a victim. No sum of money could reasonably do that. The fatal award is in the nature of a gesture of condolence on behalf of society. And the award is in fact more generous than the amount payable under the fatal accidents legislation.
We have just completed a thorough review of the Scheme based on the findings from a public consultation exercise that was launched in 1999. On 1 April 2001, having secured the necessary parliamentary approval in March, we brought in a wide-ranging package of improvements, worth £20 million in a full year, to what is already probably by far the most generous scheme in the world.470W
Responses to the consultation exercise were evenly split on whether there should be any increase to the fixed fatal award. On balance, we decided not to recommend changes to the tariff level at which the fatal award is fixed, although the actual amount payable went up by 10 per cent. from 1 April as a result of a general up-rating of most of the tariff bands.