Easing of Legal Aid Limitations Will Reduce The Plight of Domestic Abuse Victims
The justice system can be complex and confusing – matters that should be resolved quickly and easily can often take inordinate amounts of time to complete and involve a great deal of stress and obstacles. Domestic violence is a real problem in the UK (and worldwide); despite the emotional and physical trauma it causes, actually seeking justice in cases such as these can also be an uphill struggle.
Luckily, the government and Ministry of Justice are implementing changes to the system and the way in which evidence and legal aid can be sourced. Find out how these changes will improve the situation for those on the receiving end of domestic abuse in the paragraphs below.
How was the justice system counter-productive?
Firstly we should look at the problem – what was the initial issue and how was it caused? The main issue is how a person or family can obtain legal aid to help with a domestic violence case. Currently, you have to comply with the following criteria:
– Provide evidence of the domestic abuse
– Prove that the abuse/violence has taken place within the last 5 years
These stipulations, and the narrow nature of the types of evidence that counted means that victims are severely limited in what they can do, and how they can seek help. This, in turn, has also meant that many victims of domestic violence have had to confront the abuser in order to help their case progress. As you can see, for someone who feels vulnerable or at risk, this limiting process is counter-productive and can cause more harm than do good.
What changes will the Ministry of Justice make?
So how have these issues been addressed? Dominic Raab from the Ministry of Justice has unveiled how the process will be changed and what this means going forward. The following changes are set to be implemented in the immediate future:
– The five-year limit will be removed
– A wider selection of evidence and sources will be accepted
At this point in time, the specifics are yet to be announced, but from these small snippets, we can see that it is a huge step in the right direction.
How will these changes help those suffering from domestic violence?
Firstly, the lift of the five-year limitation will help greatly with historical cases. Furthermore, it will enable those who may have been suffering long-term but who have only recently plucked up the courage to seek help, attain it. Secondly, the inclusion of a wider range of evidence and credible sources will help victims proceed with their case quickly. They should be able to prove the offenders guilt quicker, and avoid a heap of unnecessary pain and stress. In essence, it should allow victims to obtain the legal help they require in a more efficient and reasonable manner.
For thousands of people across the UK these government changes should serve as a lifeline and a glimmer of hope in an otherwise terrible and horrific situation. Many people have been critical of the overly strict and narrow domestic violence laws (mainly the LASPO act of 2012) that have hindered as opposed to having helped victims. Their vigilance and perseverance appear to have paid off and this upcoming change should benefit the nation greatly.