The Oldham council Liberal Democrat group are proposing a motion at the full council meeting on Wednesday 12th July 20167 which will be calling on the council to join the campaign to scrap domestic violence charges.
Liberal Democrat Councillor for Saddleworth North, Garth Harkness who is proposing the motion said:
“It is traumatic enough for a domestic violence sufferer as it is. Some have gone to domestic violence centres with little. Recent legislation changes mean in order to access legal aid series in domestic violence cases, evidence from a GP letter is required. Reports of charges for GP letters have been around £75 but as much as £175 as it is outside the NHS contract. Having to find a fee for a GP letter is unreasonable and many victims will not have it. This is not acceptable. We need to support domestic violence sufferers not put up barriers”.
Seconder of the motion, Liberal Democrat Councillor, Julia Turner, Crompton said:
“Reports of domestic violence are on the increase. The government need to let innocent suffers of domestic abuse access legal aid support without the requirement to provide written evidence which will cost them money to obtain it they don’t have.. Whilst we push for the government to change the requirements we need to ask our local GPs not to charge for letters until the requirement is scrapped
“There were 1.3 million females and 600,000 males who were victims of domestic violence in 2014/15. On average 100 women and 30 men are killed every year from domestic violence. We need to support victims to get justice not hinder them”
Councillor Garth Harkness added “The council should support the campaign “Scrap the Fee” launched by Whythenshawe Safe Sports and Labour MP, Tom Watson. A stance for no fees for a letter to be used as evidence in domestic violence case is supported by many Police and Crime Commissioners across the country. They know that it has a significant impact in ensuring justice. It is time Oldham council join the campaign”
Motion Reads: Scrap the Domestic Violence Charge Fee
- Notes that in 2014 / 15 there were an estimated 1.3 million female victims and 600,000 male victims of domestic abuse and that, on average, 100 women and 30 men a year are killed in situations involving domestic abuse.
- Remains totally committed to opposing domestic violence in all its forms, to supporting its victims, and to working for a society where all members of our community treat one another with compassion, kindness and respect.
- Believes that Government should share these priorities and is therefore bitterly opposed to Conservative Government proposals requiring victims of domestic violence seeking legal aid to provide a prescribed piece of evidence to prove they have been subjected to abuse.
- Notes that such evidence can include a letter from a General Practitioner for which some GPs charge a fee of up to £75, as this sits outside of the NHS contract.
- Believes that it is totally unreasonable to expect the victims of domestic violence to pay such a fee; that many such victims will struggle to find the fee.
Council resolves to
- Ask the Chief Executive to write to the Minister of Justice outlining this Council’s opposition to the imposition of a requirement for victims of domestic violence to produce letters or similar evidence of abuse to access legal aid and asking the Government to scrap this requirement.
- Ask the Chief Executive to write to the Borough’s three Members of Parliament and the new Mayor of Greater Manchester asking them to support this position.
- Ask the Health and Well-being Board and the Domestic Violence Partnership to contact local GPs asking them to make a commitment not to charge victims for letters until such time as this requirement is scrapped.
- Register as a supporter of the ‘Scrap the Fee’ campaign established by Tom Watson MP and Wythenshawe Safe Spots.