NCDV, the Guildford-based National Centre for Domestic Violence, reports that it has helped, free of charge (pro bono), 4100 victims of domestic violence in England during 2020.
The number is more than 50% higher than the previous record set in 2019 when the organisation helped 3000 victims pro bono. 2018’s figure was 2,000.
NCDV is by far the largest organisation that provide a free legal support service of this kind. Mark Groves, chief executive, commenting on the figures, said:
“Without the extraordinary dedication of our pro bono team many thousands of victims would not get the legal support they need and deserve.”
“We make no charge whatsoever to any of the victims who call us. But those callers who cannot afford a solicitor or who cannot get legal aid funding quickly still need to get vital legal protection in place.”
“It is when these victims find they don’t qualify for legal aid and simply cannot afford a solicitor that we can step in and help them pro bono”
Every month NCDV receives about 8000 calls from people suffering from, or at severe risk of, domestic abuse, including controlling behaviour. Most of these callers, though by no means at all, are women who have been referred by the police and other domestic abuse support agencies.
NCDV’s ability to help victims secure civil law Non Molestation Orders quickly is an extremely effective counter to domestic abuse: if abusers breach the terms of the Order it constitutes a criminal law offence punishable by up to five years in prison.
“Many callers are in financial distress as well as suffering from abuse and many will fail to qualify for full funding, due to the very strict criteria governing the allocation of legal aid. One victim was recently asked to make a personal contribution of £247,000! “
“The net result is that many victims will go without who cannot afford to pay for their own legal protection or who are not referred to NCDV.”
“Our pro bono work is still a minor, but nonetheless significant step towards the long-term goal of making domestic abuse and violence socially unacceptable.”
2020 Pro Bono Victim comment (anonymised to protect identity)
“The team at NCDV have been so amazingly helpful during a particularly difficult time. I was feeling lost and did not know where to turn next but they gave me genuinely useful advice and guided me through the process of taking legal action when it all felt so overwhelming.”
“Every team member I’ve spoken to seems to really care and whenever they have said they would do something it has been done with the highest level of professionalism and urgency. I’m so very grateful.”