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Allowing councils to opt out of legal duties to ‘experiment’ with service delivery will place children’s lives at risk

Date:17 JAN 2017
In just a few months the Family Court has seen its budget shrink from £2.4bn to £1.6bn. These cuts as well as ongoing delays in improving the system are wreaking havoc on society’s most vulnerable families.

The latest set of concerns stem from the drastic reduction in legal aid which also saw the government implement a set of requirements that had to be met before victims of domestic violence could access legal support. Arguing that the need to show evidence of violence underlined the importance of fairness in legal proceedings the government conveniently sidestepped difficulties surrounding pre-trial evidence gathering in such cases in order to save money. The measure left countless victims unable to bring their abusers to court and to protect themselves from further harm. And not just out of court either.

Perpetrators and those accused of abuse are also increasingly unable to access legal representation for family court hearings and are now cross examining their victims in person adding to any trauma already present. Case studies are now emerging which show that this practice is leading to some...

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