Domestic Violence (Legal Aid)

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 17th March 2015.

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Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough 11:30 am, 17th March 2015

How many women who have been victims of domestic violence applied for legal aid in proceedings relating to their children in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Shailesh Vara Shailesh Vara The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

From July to September 2014, there were 3,097 applications for legal aid in relation to private law proceedings under the Children Act 1989. Due to the way in which data are collected, that figure includes applications where there was evidence of child abuse and applications that were made by men. I will write to the right hon. Lady to provide a breakdown of applications by gender.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough

I asked for the figures because the gateway into legal aid for victims of domestic violence requires them to provide evidence that they have been victims of domestic violence in the last two years. We know that abusers use child custody and access arrangements to further abuse their victims. What is the Minister doing about that?

Photo of Shailesh Vara Shailesh Vara The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

What the right hon. Lady does not seem to accept is that the Minister is listening. He has increased the criteria that are required. Thousands of people have successfully applied for legal aid in domestic violence cases and many more will doubtless be successful.