MSPs say Domestic Abuse Act needs greater implementation

MSPs say Domestic Abuse Act needs greater implementation

The introduction of the 2018 Domestic Abuse Act has been an important step but more action is needed in implementing it and tackling domestic abuse, the Criminal Justice Committee has said.

As part of post-legislative scrutiny, the committee has been reviewing the impact of the Act and how effective it has been in achieving the objectives set out by the Scottish government. The Act’s key provision created a new offence around non-physical forms of abuse such as coercive control.

The committee said there is strong support for the Act amongst prosecutors, law enforcement, and women’s groups and that it is beginning to have an impact, including increasing prosecutions. However, the committee believe progress has been too slow and they have called on several issues to be addressed.

It highlighted issues with the practical implementation of the Act, particularly within the police service, the Crown Office and the courts and called for a ‘short-life implementation group’ to be setup tasked with accelerating progress and tackling the issues raised in the committee report.

Speaking as the report was published, committee convener, Audrey Nicoll MSP, said: “It’s clear the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 is supported across the sector and is an important part of efforts to tackle all forms of domestic abuse in Scotland. However, there are undoubtedly still issues which need to be addressed.

“Evidence we have gathered has highlighted issues with implementing provisions in the Act, particularly across the police service, the Crown Office and the courts. We have concerns over the sentencing of crimes of this nature and on ensuring there is adequate and ongoing training so all police officers responding to domestic abuse cases can do so effectively.”

She added: “It is clear to the committee that the original communication campaign around the 2018 Act was pivotal in raising public awareness of these issues at the time.

“We are calling on the Scottish government to consider running an updated campaign, including one which targets children, as a way to continue to effectively highlight the various forms of domestic abuse.

“Domestic abuse as well as violence against women and girls is completely unacceptable and it is clear that more should be done to tackle this issue and support both victims and survivors.”

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