Legal aid plans fear for women

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PLANNED changes to the legal aid system have been criticised by a South Yorkshire MP for the potential impact on domestic violence sufferers.

Dan Jarvis, who represents Barnsley Central, revealed he has received dozens of emails and letters from constituents who are ‘deeply concerned’.

The Labour MP said: “Legal aid is a safety net which should be guaranteed for whomever, whenever.

“Of course, it is usually the case that legal aid is used to protect the most vulnerable in society - women who are the victims of domestic violence, for instance.

“Despite Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s recent suggestion that his safeguards are ‘formidable’, the reality is, the safeguards do not apply to women who visit domestic violence centres in local communities, but instead only apply to women who seek refuge.”

He added: “As a result of these reforms, Mumsnet predicts that tens of thousands of women will not be able to walk away from abusive partners.

“Over 50 per cent of women, who would have had access to legal aid prior to this reform, now won’t be in receipt of it.

“I don’t think that was acceptable which is why I voted against the reforms to legal aid and why I will continue to keep pressure on the Government over this legislation.”