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Victims of domestic abuse increasingly face being cross-examined by their attackers because legal aid cuts make it difficult to qualify for courtroom representation, according to research by Citizens Advice.
The warning also features in a report by a parliamentary select committee that says women who have endured violence in the home may have problems providing the evidence required to obtain a lawyer.
The justice system’s treatment of victims of domestic violence has become a politically charged issue. The Ministry of Justice says all victims are entitled to legal aid to help them “break free from abusive relationships”.
But a Citizens Advice report, Victims of Abuse: Struggling for Support, says the regulations, “both in terms of evidence requirements and income or asset thresholds requiring financial contribution, leave large numbers of victims giving up on their rights to justice”.
It adds: “In some cases these restrictions expose victims to risk, leaving no alternative but to represent themselves in court facing their perpetrator.”
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 set out regulations about how victims can provide evidence of abuse having occurred in the previous two years.