Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon has welcomed the launch of a pilot scheme to offer free legal advice to victims of sexual offences.
The party’s Justice Spokesperson said:
“The launch of a pilot scheme provide publicly-funded independent legal advice to victims of sexual offences is very welcome.
“Sexual crimes are highly traumatic and leave a difficult and lasting impact on a victim.
“It is quite shocking that victims and complainants do not have legal representation, and that complainants are considered simply witnesses in a criminal trial.
“Whilst victims can be subjected to highly traumatic and hurtful court processes, they are not currently afforded legal advice to explain the complexities of the legal process.
“This pilot scheme is a welcome step to addressing the huge imbalance that exists in terms of fairness in sexual offence cases.
“The next step must be to consider how to afford better legal representation to other victims of such insidious crimes, including improving access to legal aid for victims of domestic abuse to prevent their abusers continuing their abuse in both the criminal and the family court.”