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More legal aid support for victims of domestic violence

Victims of domestic violence will get more support in taking abusive former partners to court, the Ministry of Justice announced today.

The current 5 year time limit on abuse evidence in the family courts will be scrapped, while the range of documents accepted as evidence of abuse will be widened to include statements from domestic violence support organisations and housing support officers. The changes will come into effect from January.

The move represents the latest step to protect and support victims of domestic abuse. Earlier this year the government announced a £17 million fund to support 41 projects across the country to tackle violence against women and girls.

Justice Minister Dominic Raab said:

“We have listened to victims’ groups and carefully reviewed the criteria for legal aid for victims of domestic abuse in family cases.

“These changes make sure that vulnerable women and children get legal support, so their voice is properly heard in court.”

Legal aid is available to people involved in private family disputes if they are victims, or are at risk of becoming victims, of domestic violence or child abuse. To qualify, applicants must provide objective evidence of the abuse while their case is also subject to means and merits tests.

The changes announced today follow a review of the evidence requirements set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012. A Statutory Instrument amending the relevant regulations will be laid in Parliament in the coming days.

The government has also committed to bringing forward a landmark Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill which will ensure that no stone is left unturned in protecting and supporting victims and children.

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