Hundreds reported under Scotland’s new domestic abuse laws

editorial image

Scottish Women’s Aid has given a cautious welcome to figures showing that hundreds of cases of domestic abuse have been reported since the launch of new legislation.

Police have recorded more than 400 domestic crimes in the first three months of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act, which covers sexual psychological or financial abuse and carries a maximum 14 year sentence.

But chief executive Dr Marsha Scott says she wants to hear more detail about the more than half of cases still not passed to procurator fiscals.

She said: “With such a sea-change piece of legislation, we did expect there to be bumps in the road and we are committed to keeping a close eye on how things progress.

“Reports from our services across the country indicate that women’s experiences when reporting under the new law have varied from place to place.

“We have been holding a series of implementation seminars looking at risk assessment, at children’s experiences of domestic abuse, at gender and coercive control perpetrators”.

At the same time, she said, Scottish Women’s Aid is keen to head off unintended consequences “such as mistaken arrests of perpetrators who are really victims”.

It also wants to avoid missed opportunities to engage with children and young people across the criminal justice process.

Since the launch of the new laws 190 cases have been reported to the Crown Office, leading to 13 convictions.

To charge people under the legislation police need to record a pattern of abuse, with two or more offences forming a course of conduct against the victim.