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Domestic abuse consultation launched

Published: 22 Dec 2015 10:00
Part of:
Law and order

Ministers extend commitment to tackling crime across Scotland.

A consultation to discuss how a ground-breaking specific offence to tackle domestic abuse across Scotland might be taken forward has been launched today.

Scotland will be one of only a handful of countries across the world to introduce dedicated legislation that would not only capture types of conduct that are already criminal but also other forms of psychological abuse and control which cannot usually be prosecuted under the existing criminal law.

This follows on from the announcement made by the First Minister in her Programme for Government in 2014 that the Scottish Government would consult on whether there a specific domestic abuse offence would improve how the justice system responds to domestic abuse. That consultation revealed there was a broad support for a new law to tackle this crime, but a range of views on how any specific offence should be constructed. This consultation will assist in considering how a specific offence should be framed and will run until 26 March, 2016.

The Scottish Government has set out a clear commitment to tackling domestic abuse and, in March 2015, announced £20m to tackle violence against women and girls. This legislative change is another tool to help eradicate this across Scotland.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:

""While we already have laws in place to protect against abusive acts that are clearly defined as criminal, it is crucial we strengthen our legislation to take into account more subtle, but equally damaging, forms of abuse which are difficult to prosecute within the existing legal framework.

"The launch of today's consultation is a really significant leap forward in tackling the scourge of domestic abuse in our communities. It will expand criminal law in Scotland and make us world-leading in our response to this most heinous of crimes, protecting those who are some of the most vulnerable in society.

"I am pleased that the general consensus on having an offence has already been reached, however I am also clear that the right approach is to listen to opinions of those right across the country to develop an offence that best fits the needs of those whom it will help.

"I'd encourage as many people as possible to share their views on this to develop law that is robust, fit-for-purpose, and provides another vital step forward in tackling domestic abuse across Scotland."

Notes to editors

A link to the consultation is available here:

Conduct that may be included in the proposed offence that are not currently criminal include abusive behaviour which is likely to cause the victim to suffer physical or psychological harm, including, for example:

  • deprivation of liberty/autonomy;
  • isolating an individual from friends, family and wider society;
  • withholding or controlling access to resources, including money;
  • psychological control and manipulation;
  • threats and creation of a climate of fear, including threats towards children; and
  • controlling or withholding access to health care, education or employment opportunities.