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Legal actions against perpetrators of domestic violence are fast becoming a further ordeal for victims, even after the escape of an abusive relationship. Since the legal aid cuts, a notable proportion of victims no longer have access to legal aid; in some cases this has led to the victims having to cross examination the very person they are taking action against. The decision to take legal action is a brave one, the fact that victims are being put through such a further ordeal does not represent a justice system that we can be proud of.
The Citizens Advice report “Victims of Abuse: Struggling for Support” states that “In some cases these restrictions expose victims to risk, leaving no alternative but to represent themselves in court facing their perpetrator.” According to the research more than 60% of Citizens Advice workers found that the changes to legal aid impacted their ability to help victims of domestic abuse. A fifth of the advisers stated that they could no longer help as many victims of domestic violence as before.
The Ministry of Justice states that all victims are entitled to legal aid to help ‘break free from abusive relationships,’ this is clearly far from reality. Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, states that ‘the government’s assurance that it will protect access to legal aid for domestic abuse victims is not standing up.’
MPs and peers on the Joint Committee on Human Rights have also called on the government to sign up to the Istanbul Convention. The Istanbul Convention is a European measure which focuses on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Any recommendation which promotes the end of domestic violence must be signed up to by the government and implemented into society.
Further work needs to be done to improve our access to justice for victims of domestic abuse. Under no circumstances, should we be in the situation where victims are having to cross examine the very person that put them through domestic abuse. We will continue to support the campaign that every victim of domestic abuse should have access to legal aid.
Domestic abuse can affect anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. At Ramsdens Solicitors we have a team of highly trained, expert solicitors who have sensitive and practical approach to helping you through your legal issue. Domestic violence is never OK #itsneverOK.
Call our family helpline on 08000 147720, email email@example.com or text LAW to 67777 to arrange a free thirty minute consultation in any of our ten offices across West Yorkshire.