Citizens Advice has reported that changes to legal aid in 2013 have affected the amount of help that 60% of advisers can offer to victims of domestic abuse.
The survey across the Citizens Advice network has found that one of the biggest barriers to support for victims is now the restricted amount of access to legal aid. A mere 12% of advice workers reported being unaffected by the changes which came into force in April 2013.
The Justice Minister, Simon Hughes, has confirmed in a written parliamentary answer that there were 2,217 applications to courts in 2013 – 2014 by grandparents seeking an order to see a grandchild after the separation or divorce of the parents. This works out to seven applications every day, and compares with for 2,649 in 2012 – 2013, and 2,319 in 2011 – 2012.
Statistics issued by the Department of Education show that during the year 2013 – 2014 referrals to children’s social care in England totaled 657,800 - an increase of 10.8% over the previous year. Data on the source of referrals – collected for the first time – shows that almost 25% of referrals were from the police.
Research by the organisation Safe Lives shows that victims of domestic abuse are suffering for nearly three years before finally getting help. Of course, this figure is an average, which means that many victims are suffering for longer.
Prior to January 2015, victims of Domestic Abuse faced significant difficulties moving to different EU states and ensuring that their protection order was enforced. These difficulties stemmed from the fact that the protection orders were not recognized between member states. As a result, victims were not fully protected from violence should their attacker follow them to their new place of residence.
In an attempt to increase income to the courts, the government considered increasing both the fees for divorce proceedings as well as for commercial proceedings. Fortunately, after reviewing the matter both proposed fee increases have been declined.
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The government announced that it will allocate £10 million for women’s refuges in 100 areas of England. The funds will be available for years 2014 and 2015. This measure is part of a global campaign which is meant to eliminate violence against girls and women and facilitate the prosecution of domestic abuse offenders.