This is the official blog of Sgt Ellie Bloggs, a real live police sergeant on the front line of England. It's not the official opinion of my police force, but all the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't pay my salary.


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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Drunkards get less cash

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) has been criticised for cutting criminal compensation by 25% if the victim has been drinking.

As far as I am aware, this applies equally to all victims, but it is a rape victim which has sparked the argument. This victim thinks that the reduction is harping back to the 1970s when people said drunk rape victims were "asking for it".

The first point is that most rape victims are drunk. This is because, frankly, drunk girls are easier to rape. It takes less force, they act less rationally, and they are not believed. However, drunk people of any gender are easier to commit crime on full-stop. Most mugging victims I deal with are drunk, as are assaults. This is a fact of life.

I have never seen an advertisement informing people that if they are drunk when they become a victim of crime their compensation will be reduced. This was clearly introduced because the powers-that-be feel that being drunk is irresponsible and they want to discourage it. In fact, it is the sort of financial incentive to sobriety that even local Blandmoreans might heed. But if it is intended as a legitimate social concern, WHY ON EARTH is this not publicised? How can it possibly act as a deterrent to drinking if no one knows this might happen?

There is no point pretending that this scheme does not seek to lay blame on victims for being drunk. I don't necessarily disagree with the idea of deterring drinking. It is worth bearing in mind that the money handed out by CICA does not come out of the offender's pocket - it is public money. So it does not represent any benefit to the offender.

But it is dangerous to assume that a crime occurred due to drunkenness, because in most cases alcohol only contributed to the situation and did not cause it. "Normal" guys do not become rapists just because they are drunk, even if they drink to assist them with the "courage" to do it. On the flip side, "normal" girls (or boys) can fall victim to rapists whether drunk or not, although most rapists will pick on a drunk one because that is their modus operandi and is much easier.

Yet the courts place great emphasis on drunkenness. Sometimes it is held against the offender if they were drunk. But in some cases, it can be a criminal defence. In others, evidence of their own drunkenness provides mitigation if convicted. If being drunk is a defence to acting stupidly, why are victims of crime penalised for it? If we agree that being drunk and wandering the streets is irresponsible, why do we not punish OFFENDERS more harshly who do it, as well as penalising the victims?

The comments of this judge, in a case where both parties were drunk, sum it up qutie nicely:

"No doubt it would not have happened were you not so drunk that night, but the fact you were drunk does not afford any real mitigation. The fact you would not have done it had you been sober makes no difference to her."

The same does not appear to hold true the other way around.

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30 Comments:

Anonymous PC Michael Pinkstone said...

If a victim has been awarded compensation for rape it is highly evident that their case has trawled its way through the lengthy and stressful machinations of the justice "system", resulting in a conviction for someone (or some people). As such, what kind of insane message is a reduction of 25% sending out to the aggrieved parties? That they are second class victims because they have ingested alcohol? This parochial demonising of drinking is in fact punishing the victims for having been raped in the first place. E.G. They were asking for it. There is no other way to interpret the "logic" of this baleful decision. Good post.

13 August, 2008 10:09

 
Anonymous Bagpuss said...

PC M - actually, there is no suggestion that the perpetrator was convicted. The compensation here is compensation from th CICA, not the court. This is paid whether or not the criminal is caught/convicted. Indeed I think in the news stories it is made clear that no one was charged or convicted in this particular case.

i fully agree that reducing compensation for a victim becasue they have been drinking is wrong. Being drunk makes you more vulnerable to any kind of criminal behaviour. So does being old, frail, alone or poor. Imagine the uproar is an elerly assault victim had their compensation cut becaue their age or infimaty meant they were more vulnerable!

13 August, 2008 11:50

 
Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

Yet again a thought provoking post
However one asks why are we paying compensation to victims of crime in the first place?The correct person to be paying this is the offender-now that the courts have held that an offender can be sued civilly many years after the event I fail to see why society should cough up-and have you seen the paperwork that needs to be done for it?Of course proper compensation should be awarded in the criminal courts and enforced
properly.Now putting on my tin hat to deflect the brickbats

13 August, 2008 11:50

 
Blogger Andrew said...

Getting and being drunk is a legal activity and as such I believe that it should have no effect on your entitlement to justice or compensation.

Being drunk is also a matter of choice so should not be accepted as mitigation for any actions you take while you are drunk.

13 August, 2008 13:01

 
Blogger Andrew said...

To retired gt,

I would have thought the reason for compensation being granted from a public fund rather than the offender is simply because compensation is all about the victim. No victim should be denied compensation because the offender is not cauught, is penniless or finds some way to avoid paying up. Now if you were to suggest that te compensation board should be able to recover the ammount paid out from the offender where is is convicted and solvent, then I would agree 100.

13 August, 2008 13:04

 
Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

Personally I would prefer to see the offender pay up-I obviously realise that this is not possible everytime so there could be some central compensation scheme perhaps funded by a 10% premium on top of any cash recovered from offenders-it wouldnt take a genius to use a deduction from wages or benefit scheme-or would it?

13 August, 2008 13:51

 
Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

Let us take the follwing situation-Wayne who is drunk sees Darren in the street.Wayne hates Darren cos Darren once snogged Chantelle at a party 6 months after she and Wayne split up.Texts have been exchanged.Wayne abuses Darren who for once walks away Darren follows him and winds him up even more.As aresult Darren loses his temper and GBHs Wayne.How much does the hard working taxpayer give Wayne in compensation?

13 August, 2008 13:56

 
Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

Sorry the intricacies of chavdom got me in a twist there-it should read Wayne follows Darren and winds him up-or did Hayley poke her snout in somewhere and Tia Maria who was going out with Darren but dumped him for Wayne....

13 August, 2008 13:59

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an appalling decision, especially given that there is provision in the Sexua Offences Act under evidential consent for the complainant to be asleep or otherwise unconcious, which would surely include being so drunk as not to be able to give consent.

13 August, 2008 14:12

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had always understood Criminal Injuries Compensation to be society’s expression of sympathy with the victim for the injury suffered. It is not dependant on drunkenness or sobriety. Nor is it dependant on the offenders ability (willingness) to pay. I have filled out a few Investigating Officers Reports on CICB forms and always made them as detailed as I am able. I would hope that this is a major factor in their decisions.

14 August, 2008 14:39

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

retired sgt - personally, I apply the "sticks and stones" rule, but I understand that most people (even police officers) don't.

However, In your case above I think that because Darren GBH'd Wayne that Darren has used disproportionate force and so Wayne is entitled to full compensation.

Had Darren only caused battery, then it would be easier to argue that Wayne’s entitlement should be reduced by his action.

Though as I’ve previously stated, I don't think a person is justified in assaulting someone who only winds you up as long as it's not threatening.

14 August, 2008 14:59

 
Blogger thinblueline said...

bloggsie anything you shouldbe telling us >

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7560451.stm

14 August, 2008 15:44

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Growing up in the North East there was an unspoken ethic that "It's a poor bloke who takes advantage of a drunken wench." Admittedly, the term wench can, today, be taken as being derogatory to the female gender but that was the way we talked back then. Even the most vicious thug (and I knew a few) would refrain from attacking a drunken woman. The problem today is that there is no respect - either respect for another person or even self respect. This lack of self-respect is shown by the number of British women on holiday who demand - note the word 'demand' rather than 'request' the morning after pill as they were legless the night before and woke up with a bloke (or more) in their bed. In a worst case scenario, they will scream rape but probably hold back on the information of their alcohol intake. On the other hand, no doubt when they returned home, they would not tell anyone about being the biggest slapper on the island but rather elaborate on the wonderful time they had. This lack of respect for others means that predators are there looking for these stupid women and taking advantage of them. In a perfect world, any woman should be able to sink half a bottle of vodka and red bull, ten or twelve alcohol fuelled cocktails and several glasses of that green coloured bottle on the top shelf and still be able to retire to her own bed without being molested. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world otherwise this blog, and others would be redundant. I have no truck with rapists and sex offenders but how difficult is it to disprove the defence that "She was drunk, she was randy and everything we did was with her consent." As far as compensatiion is concerned, should there be a CICA where public funds are used to compensate victims of crime. Is this not an admission by the Government that "We were not able to protect you from crime but here's a coupe of quid, which will not be coming from our pockets, so you will feel better and keep quiet." Wouldn't it be better that an offender, if found guilty, be MADE to pay compensation and that be part of the sentence - failure to do so reasulting in a custodial sentence. On the other side, speaking as a mere male (please don't tell Harridan Harperson the Minister of Inequality) any defence of "I had had 14 pints of Guinness and shagged her because I thought she was my wife." is definitely a non-starter. After such a copious amount of alcohol the hardest part of that person's body would be the ability to add two and two.
We don't live in a perfect world and some of the decisions made will not please evryone, but this decision may send a message to those men and women who think it is their right to consume huge amounts of alcohol and expect the wolrd to bow to their inebriated sense of right and wrong.
Plodnomore

14 August, 2008 19:38

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no sympathy for the victim here (on the question of recompense). I am probably in the minority, but I see this as a straight case of "contributory negligence". Now if we are talking about a single glass of wine, I dont see that the victim was impaired, but if they were legally drunk (for drink driving cases) I have no problem with the CICB reducing damages on the basis of "contributory negligence". I find the whole wimmin's movement on rape distasteful - while I wholeheartedly agree that more should be done, the shrillness of the wimmin is crap. The CICB operates, not on criminal results, but on the civil balance of probabilities. Taking into account contributory behaviour is a sensible idea.

15 August, 2008 00:59

 
Anonymous Picador said...

The Womens' Movement .. is best from the waist down.

15 August, 2008 01:04

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Anon 00:59, the drink-drive limit cannot possibly be said to be a good indicator of whether someone is "drunk". The limit is extremely low and most people can function perfectly well after 2-3 glasses of wine. Also, how do you propose we measure how much these victims have had to drink? By the time they give urine it is usually many hours after the incident.

15 August, 2008 20:50

 
Blogger jane said...

Anon: "contributory negligence" is a legal term in tort law not criminal law. Victims of crime are just that victims, no matter what they wear, how much they drink, how old they are, and so on and so on.
Would you say a 90 year old man is to blame because he could only afford one lock when he knew the area he lived in was rough? No because the fault lies squarely with the criminal who commits the act.
Victims are not to blame, and if they're entitled to compensation they should receive it all no matter what.

15 August, 2008 23:20

 
Anonymous Dr Melvin T Gray said...

Jane offers a fundamental observation from civil law which is probably wasted on anyone struggling with basic grammar and spelling, sorry spelin.

17 August, 2008 08:09

 
Anonymous XTP said...

Ellie,

Is your recent lack of new posts in any way connected to your studying for Part2?!

17 August, 2008 15:21

 
Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

I read today that women in Afghanistan as in many Islamic countries are still being sentenced to 20 yrs imprisonment for being victims of rape-puts losing a few hundred quid in context
And this is the country we invaded to civilise it and help restore womens rights

18 August, 2008 10:59

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr Melvin T Gray.....We're not all public school educated you know Mr clever clogs. Some people struggle with grammar and spelling because of Dyslexia, which does NOT mean that they lack intelligence.

The right of a victim to receive compensation in civil law is correct in theory, and many do get it. However, if one is unfortunate enough to have been a child victim of rape and sexual abuse at the hands of cops, lawyers and a fookin judge, and one blew the whistle on them....What chance of justice, real justice, do you think that person has? Do tell.

Considering that the victim of said historical abuse was warned by those perverts, that "bad things" would happen to her and her family IF she EVER told her story within the legal system.
One would hope and expect that a request to one's Chief Constable, to sort out said compensation from the Home Office might produce a helpful response. NO SUCH LUCK!
DQ

19 August, 2008 02:07

 
Blogger jane said...

Anon, that is a totally different scenario to the matter in hand. The topic is about alcohol and its affects on the CICA board's decision. And the tale of a child abuse sufferer is not relevant no matter how sad it might be.

19 August, 2008 22:44

 
Anonymous Nimrod said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

20 August, 2008 01:11

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Please bear in mind that I may be held legally responsible for any libellous content on my blog... hence some posts have been removed.

20 August, 2008 17:13

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's nothing "libellous" about the truth Bloggsy. It's more a case of government not wanting to admit to it, and you not wanting to "get involved". Job, pension etc, etc.....

20 August, 2008 23:37

 
Anonymous MOP said...

@Jane -

The difference between the 90 year old who could only afford a single lock and a woman who drinks is that one is an act of omission and the other one of commission. No one made the woman drink. It is this point that marks the difference between the two.

The point is that CICB is doling out damages on a civil basis not a criminal one. The fact that someone has been a victim means that they receive compensation from the taxpayer, but the fact that they are a crime victim doesnt alter the legal process under which compensation is paid. You seem to be confusing the fact that a crime was committed (and is dealt with via the CJS) and the process used to calculate damages. I have no difficulty understanding why there is a reduction in damages in cases where there has been contributory negligence.

Now, we could argue that the amounts paid are too low, but this is wholly different kettle of fish.

26 August, 2008 12:46

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

'There's nothing "libellous" about the truth Bloggsy'

Yes, there can be, so don't do it!

26 August, 2008 17:59

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good friend of mine whilst at University was hit so hard by some thug in a night club for "spilling his drink" that it left his skull fractured and also left him with some psychological trauma. He spent 2 weeks in hospital recovering from having his skull bolted back together.
He did not recieve a penny from the CICA even though he has been left with facial scars for the rest of his life.
I went into the station to give a witness statement regarding the evening and was met with apathy. The attitude was that there could be any number of people who looked like this chap and the nightclub had lost the tapes.
It seems when alcohol is involved if you are a victim then you might as well not bother.

28 August, 2008 20:43

 
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