The government’s reforms to legal aid and court services have had a devastating impact on access to justice. Women’s access to justice has been particularly affected and the government’s reforms have put women and children at risk of domestic violence at even greater risk. These are key findings from a new report: Justice Denied: Impacts of the government’s reforms to legal aid and court services on access to justice – published by the Speak Up for Justice campaign today (19 October).
What staff working in the justice sector and experts told us:
“Changes to legal aid have been cuts-focused. People can obtain legal aid if lives, homes and liberty are at stake – there is now a much higher threshold for accessing legal aid. This means that there is limited means for people to enforce their rights. The rich and powerful can have less regard for people’s rights in this context, and they are more able to trample on people’s rights.” RICHARD MILLER, HEAD OF LEGAL AID, LAW SOCIETY
“We are seeing women and children having unsafe contact with perpetrators of domestic violence. Legal aid cuts mean that lack of access to representation, and therefore the ability to protect the child, is more limited.” SIÂN HAWKINS, CAMPAIGNS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS MANAGER, WOMEN’S AID
Children are being forgotten. Contact applications from the absent parent are more difficult and it takes longer without the expertise of a solicitor. Absent parents are giving up without trying and the child will often be the one that loses out.” STAFF MEMBER
“There has been a significant increase in my working hours and I am struggling on every case to fulfil both my statutory professional duties and to do justice to each and every case.” ASSOCIATE PROSECUTOR
Find out more: Read the Executive Summary and full report