BY Martin Dunlop | April 18 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

15-DOMESTIC-ABUSE

Caritas welcomes U-turn on legal aid restrictions

Late government changes to bill will protect service to victims of domestic abuse

A government U-turn on plans to limit the provision of legal aid for domestic abuse victims has been welcomed by Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN).

The Catholic Church in England and Wales’ social action arm has welcomed late government changes to the LAPSO Bill, which will protect legal aid for victims of domestic abuse.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke expanded the list of evidence that domestic abuse victims could provide to prove eligibility for legal aid. Statements from GPs, women’s refuges and the police will now continue to count as evidence for legal aid provision. The Secretary of State also increased the proposed time limit on the validity of evidence to 24 months.

The news was welcomed by Helen O’Brien, chief executive of CSAN, who commented that ‘legal aid is nothing short of essential for allowing many victims of domestic abuse to escape the cycle of fear and mistreatment.’

“We are pleased that the government has recognised the importance of legal aid provision and has continued to make it accessible to those who are in very vulnerable situations,” Ms O’Brien said.

The government’s U-turn on legal aid provision for domestic abuse victims comes after a period of campaigning by a number of groups including CSAN, which coordinated a public letter sent to Ken Clarke signed by the leaders of 10 major faith groups, including Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark.

—martin@sconews.co.uk

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