The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is an executive agency of the UK government department, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) . It administers the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme which provides compensation for blameless victims of violent crime in England, Scotland and Wales. The scheme covers mental injuries, sexual assault, domestic abuse and many other types of violent crime.
Between 2017 and 2019, I was responsible for a team at CICA that was working through the agile delivery cycles towards delivering a new digital service. I was also the lead for ensuring the service met the GOV.UK Service Standard. I worked with the senior leadership team at MoJ Digital to help build a culture of user-centred design at all levels of the organisation, identifying gaps in the delivery team and mentoring existing team members. I helped the CEO and executive team at CICA understand the value of user centred design and agile, iterative development. Working closely with the digital service owner and the digital delivery team, I helped develop a minimal viable product and a realistic product delivery roadmap.
At the time, the key problem for the service to solve was that there were approximately 32,500 applications per year, but over half of the applications were not eligible for compensation. Combined with the fact that applications took on average over 2 years to process, there was a real need to ensure that applicants were able to quickly establish if their case was viable and that no one had to relive a traumatic experience through an unnecessary application form.
At the time the organisation believed that the existing service was good and working well for applicants. It had optimised lots of business processes around a small part of the application experience for the end user. There was little acknowledgment of the experience prior to this point or after it. The organisation didn’t think it had to worry about that. It had different standards for how it would treat different people and how it responded to them. It didn’t consider the wider context of any relived experience of trauma. It was just administering a compensation scheme.
I led the digital delivery team to improve the application form. I helped them focus on improving the way questions were asked, how many were asked, and the way they were asked. The number of questions victims were asked was reduced from 49 to 18. Fewer questions equaled less re-traumatisation. A key KPI was to ensure applicants who were not eligible knew as early as possible in the application process. I also worked with both the delivery team and the CICA executive team to recognise why certain questions were unnecessary and intrusive. Better questions structured correctly led to better data being collected which then led to processing time being decreased.
I helped coach the CEO and executive team to empathise with users and to recognise that in a lot of cases completing an application form and revisiting sensitive subject matter could be very traumatising for users and ultimately the information wasn’t relevant to establishing what the organisation needed to know in order to be able to make a decision about awarding compensation.
The outcome was a change in culture in the organisation and a realisation that a better service could be delivered and that guidelines and frameworks like the GOV.UK Service Standard are not blockers but a huge support in delivering services that meet the needs of the people that are using them and are designed in a way that means they can be accessed by everyone in society. I also supported the delivery team in exploring ways to get the information from other sources such as the police or the NHS. We also explored technological solutions to reduce data and increase the accuracy of data users provided.