Husbands wrongly accused of abuse after changes to legal aid rules charity

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “If they have not done anything abusive, or which they consider to be abusive, they might assume that it’s OK to do certain things, maybe contact their ex-partner and say ‘can I see the children this weekend’, and the next thing you know they are arrested and convicted because they’ve broken an order. He said orders made without the respondent being present were “unhelpful because the judge only hears one side of the story when they issue the order”. However, women’s groups said false reports were rare.Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Given that the police are recording record numbers of domestic abuse-related incidents and offences, we would expect the number of non-molestation orders being applied for and granted to increase over this period as more victims have the courage to report to the police and seek protection through the justice system.” Husbands have been wrongly accused of domestic abuse after changes to legal aid rules, a charity has warned. Figures show that there has been a significant rise in applications for non-molestation orders, which are granted in urgent abuse cases. Parent advocacy group Families need Fathers said that in some cases parents were encouraged to allege abuse in order to be granted an order, which then allows them to access legal aid funding. The law was changed in 2012 to remove legal aid for family court cases, except where abuse is involved. The statistics, obtained following Freedom of Information requests by the group, show that the number of orders made in England and Wales has risen by 30 per cent since 2011. Most of the orders are applied for by women, with more than 22,000 granted in 2017 compared to less than 2,000 which were applied for by men. A spokesman for Families need Fathers said that in some cases the order can be made when the respondent is not present, and they are likely to be unrepresented by a lawyer and may not understand its its implications.”A lot of people are coming to us through our support groups who have received documents through the post, they don’t really understand the significance of them and if they don’t act they make mistakes.  She added that the charity was “not aware of any cases where mothers have falsely applied for non-molestation orders”, adding, “we know from our work with survivors that non-molestation orders can be difficult to obtain and the court process itself can be distressing for victims.”She said the suggestion that the accusations are false “sends out a dangerous message to survivors” and “tells them that they may not be believed”. A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Non-molestation orders are an important means of protecting individuals in abusive situations. “When deciding whether to grant a non-molestation order the judge will consider all the circumstances, including the need to secure the health, safety and wellbeing of the applicant and any children.” read more