ONE MILLION victims of domestic violence, police mistreatment or doctors' negligence suffer in silence because they are too scared to ask for help or believe they don't qualify for legal assistance, according to the largest research project into access to justice in England and Wales.
The findings show that a large section of society feels excluded from the legal system, undermining the Government's promise to open the courts to more people.
The survey, by the Legal Services Commission, found nearly 20 per cent of people interviewed who had a serious legal problem also said they had taken "no action" to solve it. In cases of domestic violence, mental health, police treatment, medical negligence or personal injury the proportion of people who did nothing was twice as high.
The researchers say in their initial conclusion: "Our findings indicate that, across England and Wales each year, no action is taken to resolve in excess of 1 million problems."
The report estimated that 200,000 people, including 45,000 victims of domestic violence, did nothing because "they were too scared to do anything". Another 250,000 took no action because they didn't want to damage a relationship. "All of these reasons for taking no action were more common than worries about cost," says the provisional report, which will be published in full in January.
Of the 5,611 people interviewed, 2,017 reported having experienced "one or more justicable problems." They ranged from threats of eviction and injuries suffered at work to domestic violence and mistreatment by the police.
In May, the Lord Chancellor's Department, which became the Department of Constitutional Affairs in July, set out a public service agreement target (PAT) for reducing social exclusion. …