The current five-year time limit on abuse evidence in the family courts will be scrapped and the range of documents accepted as evidence of abuse will be widened to include statements from domestic violence support organisations and housing support officers. The changes are scheduled to come into effect this month (January 2018).
Currently documentation is accepted as evidence of abuse from social services, law enforcement and medical professionals. Evidence provided by domestic violence support organisations or housing support officers as part of an application for legal aid in disputed family court cases need to include a statement that in the letter writer’s reasonable professional opinion, the applicant is a victim of domestic violence or at risk of being a victim; the matters relied on in support of that opinion and a summary of the support the individual or organisation provided following the determination.
The move represents the latest step to protect and support victims of domestic abuse. Towards the end of last year, the government announced a £17 million fund to support 41 projects across the country to tackle violence against women and girls.