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Lord Advocate highlights innovations in prosecution of domestic abuse in Scotland

The Lord Advocate emphasised the world-leading commitment Scotland’s prosecutors’ have to ensuring victims’ voices and experiences are at the heart of the criminal justice system in a speech today.

In a speech at the Heads of Prosecution Agencies in the Commonwealth Conference (HOPAC) the Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC reflected upon the change brought about by the introduction of ground-breaking legislation designed to tackle coercive and controlling behaviour. 

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 has allowed prosecutors to specifically tackle  controlling, domineering, demeaning and belittling behaviours in criminal charges. 

Speaking at the event the Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC said: 

“At the present time, prosecutions are ongoing which reflect acts of coercive control we could not previously have libelled, including controlling what clothing and make-up the victim was allowed to wear; controlling where the victim was allowed to go and preventing the victim from seeing her family and friends. 

“In other cases, the offending behaviour extends to monitoring the victim’s activities, movements and communications. And we have cases where the accused has threatened to kill himself if the victim should leave him and others including accusing the victim of infidelity 

“This new legislation has made these behaviours visible and has allowed victims to recount the full extent of the abuse and the courts to reflect that in sentencing.  

“Our new domestic abuse law is a striking example of strong multi-agency collaboration and engagement in seeking innovative improvements to tackle domestic abuse and is a significant step forward for Scotland in recognising the true nature of domestic abuse and making victims and children safer.” 

“Our new domestic abuse law is a striking example of strong multi-agency collaboration and engagement in seeking innovative improvements to tackle domestic abuse and is a significant step forward for Scotland in recognising the true nature of domestic abuse and making victims and children safer.”

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC

The Lord Advocate spoke at the conference in her capacity as the head of the system of criminal prosecutions and the investigation of deaths in Scotland. As Scotland’s prosecution service, COPFS take a rigorous approach to crimes of domestic abuse, are committed to prosecuting coercive and controlling behaviours, and to working with partners to support victims through the criminal justice system. 

The conference brings together prosecutors to share innovations in the delivery of criminal prosecutions, as the justice system recovers from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.