Regina v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, Ex parte Clowes: 1977

A police sergeant was injured by an explosion when he was investigating the suicide of a man who had broken off the end of a gas stand pipe in his house. The Board rejecting his application, saying that it had not been ‘a crime of violence’.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The The phrase ‘crime of violence’ cannot mean an offence which involves nothing more than the infliction of damage to property. Eveleigh J said that it referred to that kind of deliberate criminal activity in which anyone would say that the probability of injury was obvious.
Wien J said that it meant some crime which as applied to the facts of a case involved the possibility of violence to another person: ‘One cannot categorise crimes of violence. One cannot prepare a list in advance and say: ‘Such and such an offence is a crime of violence’. One may say that certain offences do not concern violence by definition. For example, simple theft would not. Robbery, on the other hand, would by definition concern violence. I would rather say that a crime of violence means some crime which by definition as applied to the particular facts of a case involves the possibility of violence to another person. I think viewing a crime of violence in that manner does justice to the ordinary meaning of the words ‘a crime of violence’, because there is a possibility of violence to another person.’
Lord Widgery CJ, dissenting, said that it was a crime which was accompanied by or concerned with violence. He described counsel for the board’s submission that a crime of violence should mean a crime of which violence is an essential ingredient as a very neat and tidy package in which to put the problem. Whether what had occurred amounted to a ‘crime of violence’ was a jury question and not a term of art.


Lord Widgery CJ, Eveleigh, Wien JJ


[1977] 1 WLR 1353


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedJones v First Tier Tribunal and Another SC 17-Apr-2013
The claimant had been injured when a lorry driver swerved to avoid hitting a man who stood in his path. He said that the deceased’s act of suicide amounted to an offence of violence under the 1861 Act so as to bring his own claim within the 2001 . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Crime, Personal Injury

Updated: 06 May 2022; Ref: scu.510939