UK Legal Aid Limitations Lead to Less Help to Domestic Abuse Victims - CAB

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The Citizen Advice Bureau charity found reported Thursday that victims of domestic abuse in the United Kingdom are left with less legal assistance due to changes in the legislature enacted two years ago.

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Victims of domestic abuse in the United Kingdom are left with less legal assistance due to changes in the legislature enacted two years ago, the Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB) charity found in its report Thursday.

In April 2013, the UK Legal Aid Agency replaced the Legal Services Commission as part of measures to reduce the 2-billion-pound ($3 billion) legal aid budget. Along with annual savings of $540 million, a number of cases previously eligible for assistance have also been slashed.

The CAB report found that, as a result of changes, almost 60 percent of advisers reported fewer domestic abuse victims pursuing legal actions and one-third chose to forego legal aid altogether.

A further 20 percent of advisers said changes forced victims to represent themselves in court, because they were unable to afford expenses.

"The Government's assurance that it will protect access to legal aid for domestic abuse victims is not standing up," Gillian Guy, CAB chief executive, said in a press release to the survey.

Guy stressed that budget cuts endanger the outcome of victims' cases, adding that they "must not be a test case for downsizing justice."

The charity Women's Aid Federation of England said in its research that law enforcement officials receive one domestic abuse case reports every minute.

The Office for National Statistics survey released last week showed nearly 2 million female and male domestic abuse victims in 2012 and 2013, constituting almost half of the British population.

Public spending has been severely cut in the United Kingdom since the 2010 Conservative and Liberal coalition government implemented its five-year austerity program.

Back in 2014, British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne proposed to extend the program to at least 2020.

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