Derbyshire’s PCC calls to scrap fees for domestic abuse victims

Sgt Trevor Steed is congratulated by Derbyshire PCC Hardyal Dhindsa

Sgt Trevor Steed is congratulated by Derbyshire PCC Hardyal Dhindsa

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A police tsar is calling on the health minister to scrap the fee to domestic abuse victims seeking legal aid.

Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Hardyal Dhindsa has joined PCCs from across the country in urging Jeremy Hunt to make the change.

Due to recent legislation changes, domestic abuse victims now have to apply for legal aid.

However, to qualify for support they need to provide specific evidence to prove they have been subjected to such abuse.

One of the accepted forms of evidence is a letter from a GP - a letter that some GPs are charging fees to provide.

The concerns have been raised by deputy Labour leader Tom Watson’s “Scrap the Fee” campaign.

Sixteen PCCs, including Hardyal Dhindsa have added their name to the letter to Jeremy Hunt.

At the same time, justice secretary Liz Truss is being urged to scrap the need for the letter all together.

Hardyal Dhindsa commented: “Money should not be the issue here.

“If you are financially dependent on your partner, on a low income or on benefits it would be nearly impossible to raise the requisite £75.

“The whole point of legal aid is that it is accessible to those whose financial position is not as secure as it could be. Victims need support and justice, not a bill.”

“Not all GPs apply these charges, and the amounts being charged vary.

“But to ensure that victims receive a consistent, equitable, and fair service across the UK, the campaign is calling for the service to be provided under the NHS so the fees are abolished.”

For further information on Tom Watson’s Scrap the Fee campaign, visit the web page www.tom-watson.com/scrap_the_fee