Faculty backs new domestic abuse protections
Support has been given by the Faculty of Advocates to planned legislation aimed at improving the protections available for people at risk of domestic abuse.
Two new short-term measures are proposed in the Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Bill – a domestic abuse protection order (DAPO) which can be granted by the civil courts on application by the police, and a domestic abuse protection notice (DAPN) which can be imposed by the police before seeking a full order from the court.
The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee is scrutinising the bill. In a submission to the committee, the Faculty said it agreed with both provisions, a main advantage being the speed with which protection could be put in place.
In relation to DAPOs, the Faculty stated: “The possibility of such an order meets the concern that an individual in a situation of coercive control may lack the freedom of action initially to take steps themselves…There is also the advantage that the person at risk need not incur expense to achieve protection in the short-term.”
The person at risk (referred to as person B) would be entitled to make representations to the sheriff or otherwise have their views conveyed, helping the sheriff to decide whether the test for an order was met, the Faculty added.
The Bill empowers a sheriff to allow the person at risk to be a party to the proceedings, but the Faculty argued against such provision.
“The power to apply for an order ought to reside only in the police. The purpose of the legislation is to provide protection to person B while they are unable, for whatever reason, to pursue other available remedies,” said the Faculty.
“If they are in a position to become a party to proceedings, it would seem likely that they would be in a position to initiate the appropriate civil proceedings themselves. Where the objective of the DAPO is to ‘fill a gap’ in the provision of protection on a short-term basis, allowing person B to become a party to the proceedings risks the process becoming overly cumbersome and being seen by person B as a substitute for more appropriate long-term remedies.
“It is our view that the right to make representations or to have their views conveyed is sufficient to ensure that the sheriff is able to take proper account of person B’s situation and their wishes in determining the necessity of an order.”