The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 creates a new offence of “abusive behaviour in relation to a partner or ex-partner” where physical and sexual violence, psychological abuse and coercive control can all be prosecuted as a single course of conduct offence. Specialist training on prosecuting under the new Act is being rolled out to staff in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in preparation for introduction of the new legislation.
Speaking about the approach to prosecutions under the new Act, Solicitor General for Scotland Alison Di Rollo QC said:
“Domestic abuse - in all its forms - is quite simply unacceptable in a modern, civilised Scotland. It goes to the heart and fabric of our society; it corrodes the fundamental values of respect and equality between genders; it blights the lives of families and children who are caught up in it.
“Scotland’s latest response in the form of this new criminal offence is ground breaking and innovative, but it is firmly grounded in an increased and evidence based understanding of the dynamics of abusive relationships. We know that real and everyday abuse is not just physical and the new offence captures that - reflecting the reality of victims’ lived experience, and what harms them.
“The Act will enable prosecutors to charge offenders with a course of criminal conduct comprising behaviour intended to isolate, humiliate, degrade, subjugate, punish or control, as well as behaviour that is already criminal such as assaults and threats. The Lord Advocate and I are committed to a robust approach to the enforcement of the criminal law in relation to domestic abuse. This new provision is the subject of extensive training and guidance for Scotland’s prosecutors so that, working closely with Police Scotland an agencies providing support and advocacy for victims, the prosecution of domestic abuse continues to be as appropriate and effective as possible, under the law and in the public interest.”