In the Media

7/7 payouts dwarfed by prisoners' compensation

PUBLISHED July 5, 2006

INMATES of Brixton and Wandsworth prisons have received compensation payouts that outstrip those planned for families of the 7/7 bombings victims.

On the eve of the first anniversary of the terror attacks,the South London Press can reveal that lags have have made claims for everything from lost property and harassment to physical abuse and breaches of the Data Protection Act.

In the past two years, 17 claims were made at Brixton and four have been dealt with. Prisoners received ?35,433 including one ?32,500 payout.

Wandsworth prison received 43 claims and dished out ?53,317 to 15 inmates. The largest single payout was a staggering ?41,000.

In comparison families of those killed in the 7/7 bombings are likely to get no more than ?11,000.

Damilola Taylor's parents received just ?10,000 after the 10-year-old was killed in Peckham.

And the parents of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman were awarded ?11,000 after their deaths at the hands of Soham killer Ian Huntley.

Clive Elliot, operations director of the Victims of Crime Trust, said: "The time has come to give more support to the victims instead of the criminals.

"Of course claiming money through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority is different from claiming through the courts,as the inmates do.

"But receiving thousands because you have fallen and might be in a bit of pain is nothing compared with the lifetime of pain a family whose child has been murdered endure.

"We need to consider the damage done to people who are left scarred by crime."

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: "Each compensation claim received by the Prison Service is treated on its individual merits.

"Legal advice is sought and on the basis of that advice a decision is made on whether or not the claim should be defended.

"It is open to prisoners and members of staff to seek compensation through civil litigation. The Prison Service has no discretion on awards made by the courts."

Home Office officials would not discuss the specific details of individual cases.

The single largest payout was made to an inmate at Wormwood Scrubs for ?122,425.

Derek Ramsden, head of the Prison Service's operational litigation unit, said that more than 1,000 cases are being brought against the Prison Service every year and the most common claim was for personal injury.

"Personal injury can cover a multitude of sins - slipping or falling down stairs, a chair collapsing, falling off a ladder or through a ceiling.We even had one prisoner that had his finger bitten off by a horse," he said.

"Accidents happen, but now people often look for someone to blame rather than themselves.And that is true of society as a whole, not just within the service."