The Solicitor General for Scotland, Alison Di Rollo QC is to address the annual Scottish Women’s Aid conference entitled “[Un]Trapped: Changing Our Understanding of Domestic Abuse”.
The event, being held today in Edinburgh, will use the Domestic Abuse Bill as a focal point for discussions and will look to examine Scotland’s response to those affected by it.
In particular the Solicitor General will discuss coercive control; controlling, demeaning and belittling behaviour which can isolate an individual and which has now been criminalised in the bill.
Ms Di Rollo said: “Over the past year, the law in relation to domestic abuse has evolved with the creation of the statutory aggravation of domestic abuse, which courts must take account of in sentencing, and the specific offence of intimate image abuse, a crime which has been made all the easier to commit by advances in technology.
“The Crown’s response to domestic abuse is unapologetically robust. Domestic abuse is serious criminality, and serious criminality deserves a serious response.
“While there are significant challenges for prosecutors in domestic abuse cases, there has also been, until now, a gap in the law, which has meant that some of the controlling, jealous, demeaning, belittling, isolating behaviour that the average reasonable person might consider epitomises domestic abuse has not, until now, been recognised as criminal. This type of behaviour has existed until now in a kind of netherworld – not acceptable, but also not, of itself, illegal. Yet.”
She added: “The Domestic Abuse Bill, which is currently making its way through the Scottish Parliament, is another significant milestone in addressing domestic abuse in Scotland and will, if passed, make criminal the insidious abusive behaviour that at present we are unable to prosecute.
“The bill creates an offence of engaging in a course of abusive conduct towards a partner or ex-partner with intention of or recklessness about causing that person physical or psychological harm. The course of criminal conduct may include behaviours already recognised as criminal, such as violent or threatening behaviour, but can also include behaviour intended to isolate, humiliate, degrade, subjugate, punish or control.
“It will allow us to hold more perpetrators to account by enabling us to prosecute courses of abusive behaviour not currently recognised as criminal, including coercive controlling behaviour and give us the flexibility to choose the most appropriate charge, more naturally reflecting the victim’s lived experience.”