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The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme provides compensation to victims of violent crime. In 2006-07, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (the Authority), which covers England, Scotland and Wales, received 61,000 applications and paid some £192 million to victims. Awards are determined by a tariff, with fixed compensation for each type of injury. Dissatisfied applicants can apply to the Authority for a review of their case and, if they remain dissatisfied, can appeal to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel (the Panel), which received 2,136 appeals in 2006-07. In 2006-07, the Authority's administrative costs were £23.6 million, and the Panel's £4.9 million. This report examines whether the Authority and Panel provide a more cost effective and better quality of service than when last investigated in 2000. The report finds the Authority's service has declined, and it has not met its targets. The average time to resolve a tariff case has increased from 364 days in 1998-99 to 515 days in 2006-07. There were 81,600 unresolved cases at the Authority and 2,400 at the Panel in October 2007. Half of the applications are rejected as ineligible, and these need to be identified much earlier in the assessment process. The Authority has recently initiated a major reform programme, and has diagnosed problems with current ways of working - too bureaucratic and repetitive - and early signs are that the changes are bringing improvements. The NAO makes a number of recommendations for further improving the service to victims and on improving the efficiency of case processing and management of the caseload.
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