Lord Advocate highlights ‘innovations’ in prosecution of domestic abuse
The Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain QC, has emphasised the commitment Scotland’s prosecutors have to ensuring “victims’ voices and experiences are at the heart of the criminal justice system” as she addressed an international conference in London.
In a speech at the Heads of Prosecution Agencies in the Commonwealth Conference (HOPAC), Ms Bain 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, Ms Bain 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.”