Following the news earlier this month that the charity Rights of Women lodged an appeal against reforms which restricted access to legal aid for victims of domestic abuse, this week the Citizen’s Advice Bureau has published a report warning against the cuts.
The report shows that around a fifth of advisers could no longer help as many domestic abuse clients as before, and that most clients are unable to afford required contributions, “leaving no alternative but to represent themselves in court facing their perpetrator.”
A third of all advisers reported that fewer domestic abuse victims are proceeding with legal action as a result of the changes.
The report also warns that the evidence required for a successful prosecution are often too hard to obtain without legal counsel, leaving victims in a position where they cannot afford legal representation, and cannot resolve the situation on their own.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau has urged the Ministry of Justice to revise these new reforms, which is currently trapping victims in “a catch-22 situation”.
A spokesperson for the MoJ has defended the claims, stating “Since the reforms were introduced thousands of people have successfully applied for legal aid where domestic violence is involved. However, we have always said we will keep the new system under review, and our door is always open to those with evidence about concerns.”