Suicide - Crime of Violence?

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What is a "crime of violence" this was considered following a suicide where a person opened a gas main to kill himself and a police officer was injured in a resultant explosion. The court found that a crime of violence was a activity in which anyone would probably suffer an obvious injury.

The definition was used until 1987 when the Court of appeal considered if, suicide was a crime of violence. The Court of Appeal concluded, that a crime of violence would only cover crimes where there was either a direct inflictions of force upon the victim, or at least a hostile act directed towards the victim.

Following this conclusion the home office set up a working party who decided the definition should go beyond the Court of Appeal's , and should include crimes where the offender was reckless as to whether death or injury would be caused to another.

People committing suicide by walking in front of trains or lying on the tracks has been a problem for train drivers for along time. Such suicides can leave train drivers with psychiatric injuries, especially when this occurs to them on repeated occasions.

Therefore following the Court of Appeal's decision and the home office working party recommendations the psychiatric injuries suffered by the train drivers was not covered.

In 1990 the government amended the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme to deal the fact the train drivers who could not claim following lobbing by the rail way unions to the labour party. This amendment then made it possible for the train drivers to claim.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority was now dealing with suicides on railways but not in any other circumstance. This was considered by the Court of Appeal in a case where a person attempting suicide walked out in front of traffic causing a crash, which left one person with significant injuries requiring full time care. The court found that the person attempting suicide, there was no evidence that he deliberately intended to harm the users of the road. As he had no intention to harm the victim and the case was dismissed. However, the victim has now been granted permission to appeal this decision.

The original purpose of The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme was intended to provide compensation for victims of violent crime. The scheme however now seems unfair, due to the amendments by the Government. Hopefully this will in time be amended to allow all victims to be compensated fairly.            

For further information please contact David Chilcott, an Associate of the Institute of Legal Executives in Blake Lapthorn's Personal Injury Team on 023 8085 7332 or email him at 

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