Lawyers warn that victims of domestic violence are forced to face abusers in court
- 13 Oct
A rising number of domestic violence victims are now being cross-examined by their former partners in court due to cuts in legal aid, making the process a lot tougher for victims of abuse.
Family law specialists are warning that cuts in legal aid are leading to a rise in litigation-in-person cases, reports The Independent.
Emma Pearmaine, a family law specialist at Simpson Millar and director of the Leeds Law Society, said: "The number of women being cross-examined by abusive ex-partners in court has doubled in my experience since 2013. Judges do their best to step in and control cross-examination situations where it is a case for an injunction, or non-molestation order, for example, but they should be there to adjudicate on the case - not manage behaviour as a priority. These women are some of the most vulnerable in society and they now have no real protection. They are let down from start to finish. They suffer abuse at home then torment from their abuser in court. For them there is no sense of justice."
Victims no longer "get their day in court" she said. "Instead of relief it turns into humiliation at the hands of their abuser. The authorities should be doing more to protect these victims' dignity - it's surely common sense these vulnerable women aren't degraded further. Changes need to be made to allow women in these sort of cases free legal protection."
The Ministry of Justice's Legal Aid Commission established an Exceptional Case Fund to support victims of domestic violence receive access to lawyers has only accept eight applications from April to December 2013 out of 617.
Most recent statistics published by the Ministry of Justice last month for the period April-June this year show that out of 125 ECF applications in the "family" category just five were granted.
Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd, a family law specialist before becoming an MP, said it was "an extremely disturbing issue" and that many women could not afford to seek justice. "There are fewer cases coming forward because of the costs of obtaining a report to begin proceedings, usually between £80 and £150. For women who do make it to court it is unacceptable for alleged abusers to cross-examine their victims. Steps have been taken in criminal cases for that not to happen but it seems inevitable now in cases where neither side has representation."
Emma Scott, director of Rights of Women, said: "This is an important step in holding the Government to account on their promise that family law legal aid would remain available for victims of domestic violence. We know from the women affected that it denies them access to the legal remedies which could enable them to leave violent and abusive relationships and find safety."
What do you think of this? Tweet us your comments @suppsolutions
Image source: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1409593
- 08 Sep
People in Leeds call to tackle domestic violence
Leaders from private, public and third sectors gathered for the Voice of Leeds Summit and discussed what they could do to tackle domestic violence, reports the Yorkshire Evening Post.Over the past...
- 04 Sep
Plans to tackle domestic violence in Bury
Research by Bury Council’s domestic violence and abuse steering group has found that there was an average of ten incidents a day in the past year from April 2015, reports the Bury Times.Town hall...
- 28 Aug
Domestic violence levels in Northern Ireland at highest
Police have said that the number of reports of domestic violence are continuing to rise, and from April 2014 to April 2015 there was a 5.6% increase, report U TV. Ulster University is set to release...
- 16 Jul
Welfare reforms could make it harder for domestic violence victims to leave their homes
Service director for Newcastle Women’s Aid Elaine Langshawe has said that welfare reforms are making it harder for domestic violence victims to leave their partners, reports the Chronicle Live.Ms...
- 15 Jul
Support for domestic violence survivors provided by local charities
A contract worth £1.2m a year has been obtained by Women’s Aid Integrated Services, Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid and Equation, reports Impact Nottingham. This contract uses funds from...
- 13 Jul
New fund to support victims of domestic violence
The fund will be open to proposals from local partnerships that show how the needs of victims are able to be met in innovative ways, reports 24dash. It has also been revealed that there will be a...
- 03 Jul
Domestic violence campaign launched in Sandwell
Run by charity Fry Housing Trust, Sandwell Council and Sandwell’s Domestic Abuse Strategic Partnership, the ‘Brighter Futures’ scheme will be running over the next two years, reports ITV...
- 24 Jun
Wolverhampton police see thousands of domestic violence reports
It has been reported that an average of sixteen incidents of domestic violence were recorded each day in Wolverhampton over the last year, reports the Express and Star.Of the 5,900 incidents reported...
- 15 Jun
UK’s approach to domestic violence called ‘incoherent’
A leaked copy of an official report by the UN special rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, has called for an urgent inquiry into Yarl’s Wood and a focus on repeated allegations...
- 10 Jun
Domestic violence to be highlighted in new film by students and police in Sunderland
The first year media students and third year drama students at the University of Sunderland have created four short films that cover financial, emotional, physical and sexual forms of domestic abuse,...
Responding to the DWP Consultation: Housing Benefit Reform - Supported Housing "I thought this briefing was very good and very useful. The presentation was clear, well argued and I always find Michael gives me food for thought even if I don't agree with everything he says. I really like the way he facilitates a discussion in the room and I learn as much from other participants as I do from the presenter which is always good. Right length, right tone." R.P. - Richmond Fellowship