Thousands of domestic abuse victims forced to fend for themselves in court, shock new figures reveal


THOUSANDS of domestic abuse victims are forced to fend for themselves in court, shock new figures reveal.

A third of survivors don’t have a lawyer to stand up for them and face the nightmare of being interrogated by their tormentor.

A record 5,400 domestic abuse survivors were forced to fend for themselves in court last year

Last year a record 5,400 applicants in domestic violence cases were unrepresented in court – more than double the number in 2001.

Nearly nine out of ten alleged abusers went to court without a lawyer, meaning many conducted their own defence.

Labour blamed the growing number of victims abandoned by the law on government cuts to legal aid funding.

The stats emerged as justice chiefs were accused of victim-blaming after research into requirements for legal aid concluded: “Victims themselves can make it difficult to obtain evidence if they do not report their abuse.”

Shadow justice minister Gloria De Piero said: “The Tories should be ashamed. Their cuts to legal aid have seen a record number of domestic violence victims unrepresented.

“They have repeatedly dragged their feet in bringing new protections so victims do not have to face their abuser in court.

“However, rather than accept responsibility for this scandal, ministers seem determined to blame the victims themselves.”

Government figures show 5,407 alleged victims were unrepresented in family courts last year – 33 per cent of the total. And 14,758 alleged abusers were unrepresented, 89 per cent of those accused.

The Sun on Sunday has fought a long battle to get victims more help, a campaign backed by Spice Girl Mel B.

Tory changes to legal aid in 2013 limited support to domestic violence victims. It was initially only available if they could provide evidence of offences taking place within the previous two years.

This time limit was then extended to five years after the Court of Appeal said it was “invalid”.

The Ministry of Justice has been contacted for comment.

Mel B backs The Sun on Sunday’s campaign to get domestic violence victims more help
Peter Jordan – The Sun


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