Victims of domestic violence exposed to intimidation as they cannot provide evidence for legal aid
The Justice select committee have said that victims of domestic violence are exposed to intimidation as they are unable to get legal representation.
Over a third of domestic violence victims are unable to provide evidence that is needed to receive legal aid reports a parliamentary watchdog. With lack of support from a lawyer, victims often find it hard to leave partners as they are exposed to intimidation and could end up facing attackers in court with no representation, reports the Guardian.
The report cites a survey conducted by the Rights of Women organisation which found that “39% of women who were victims of domestic violence had none of the forms of evidence required to qualify for legal aid”.
The select committee wishes to introduce a “catch-all” cause which would give Legal Aid Agency discretion to grant legal aid to any victim of domestic violence who doesn’t fit into the current critera.
Jenny Beck, co-chair of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, said: “Victims of domestic violence cannot get the help or protection that they need. It is difficult, almost impossible for many people in crisis to obtain legal advice because of unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles.”
David Emmerson, co-chair of the family law organisation Resolution, said: “Many people who have suffered domestic abuse find it very difficult to gather together the evidence required by the Legal Aid Agency to get the support they need. We’ve even heard of people being subjected to the horrendous experience of facing the courts without legal support, only to be cross-examined directly by their abuser. Surely the government did not intend this situation, which amounts to a perpetuation of abuse, as a consequence of the legal aid cuts.”
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