call on Jeremy Hunt to "scrap the fee" for domestic violence doctor's
MERSEYSIDE'S Police Commissioner, Jane
Kennedy, has joined Police and crime commissioners across the country calling on
Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to scrap the fee charged to domestic abuse
victims seeking legal aid.
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 that they have been subjected to such abuse. 1 of the accepted forms
of evidence is a letter from a GP; a letter that some GP's are charging fees to
The concerns raised by Deputy Labour Leader Tom Watson's "scrap the fee"
campaign have been echoed by Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime
Commissioner Tony Lloyd who called on the support of his fellow PCC's to demand a
fair process for abuse victims.
Tony said:- "That victims of domestic abuse are even being asked to prove
they are victims before they can access legal aid is insulting, insensitive and
It should not be a privilege for victims of domestic abuse to gain legal aid.
There should be no further burden on victims to chase a letter to verify their
claim. The government needs to scrap this fee by bringing the service under NHS
funding or better still; scrap the need for the letter entirely."
Deputy Labour Leader Tom Watson 1st raised this issue following a visit to a
Wythenshawe Safe Spots, a support centre for victims and survivors of domestic
abuse. Tom said:- "I'm delighted that Police and Crime Commissioners
across the country have backed my scrap the fee campaign; I learned about the
GP fee when I visited a centre for victims of domestic abuse, in Wythenshawe. I
couldn't believe it.
People suffering domestic abuse are already incredibly vulnerable. We should be
taking action to help them, not demanding payment for a letter they need to
Nearly ½ of women take no action as a result of not being able to apply for
legal aid. That's appalling. Help for victims of domestic violence should never
come at a price. I have requested an urgent meeting with Ministers to put an end
to this practice. The Government should scrap this unfair, immoral fee now. It
has to stop."
16 PCCs, including Jane Kennedy, have added their name to the letter to Jeremy
Hunt, and Justice Secretary Liz Truss is also being urged to scrap the need for
the letter all together.
Jane said:- "Victims of domestic abuse should not be required to pay in
order to get justice. They are often financially controlled by their abuser and
this policy causes further pain and risk. The Government should remove the need
for a GP's letter in order to get legal aid. We should believe vulnerable
victims and support them, not cause further risk to them, which this policy
Not all GP's 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.