Domestic violence victims in Sussex will benefit from free legal advice thanks to a £50,000 donation.
Thousands of domestic abuse victims across the UK have had to represent themselves in family courts, often leading to re-traumatisation for the victim and another form of control for their perpetrator.
The most recent Government figures show the number of victims without a lawyer has doubled over the last five years with over 3,000 having no legal aid in 2017 compared to 1,309 in 2012.
Now Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne has provided The Daisy Chain Project, a charity in Sussex, with £50,000 of funding from her victims’ budget to help combat this issue by providing male and female victims of domestic abuse with free legal advice.
Commenting on how important this service is for victims, Mrs Bourne said: “Without support from a lawyer, victims find it difficult to flee an abusive relationship and may have to be cross-examined by their perpetrators in court if left unrepresented. I do not want to see this happening in Sussex.
"I believe all victims of crime, male or female, should know their rights and be provided with the tools to legally confront their perpetrator without having to represent and defend themselves.
“Earlier this year I welcomed the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill which, if passed, will mean that domestic abuse will finally be recognised as the complex crime it is, outlining that it goes beyond crimes of violence and includes those who are psychologically coerced, as well as those who are denied access to their finances.
“This is an important step forward as I feel that often victims of this crime type are turned away from support services because they appear to own assets or savings (otherwise known as ‘means testing’) which are actually under their abuser’s control.
"This is why Daisy Chain as a charity is unique as it has never means tested anyone that has come to them for help. They are not just a pro bono service but a support mechanism that any victim of domestic abuse can access.”
Founder of the charity, Jade-Shannon Patrick said: "On behalf of myself and the trustees of The Daisy Chain Project we would like to thank the PCC and her office, for their incredible generosity and constant encouragement and advice.
"Being as we are an 18 month old charity, we were not expecting to grow so fast and this money enables us to ensure a robust and consistent service for our clients along with a drop-in advice clinic which we will soon be operating."