Groundbreaking domestic abuse law comes into force

Groundbreaking legislation that criminalises psychological domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour has come into force in Scotland.

The new coercive control offence is about behaviour over time, where ongoing harmful and abusive actions in a relationship, which in isolation might not seem as serious, are examined together.

In order to get a conviction, proof that someone was harmed and traumatised isn’t required – instead there needs to be proof that the perpetrator, or the accused, intended to harm or that a reasonable person with all the facts of the relationship deemed the perpetrator’s actions “reckless” and likely to cause harm.

Finally, this legislation is the first to put children on the face of the law, now identified as potential victims in the form of an aggravation that will allow the judiciary to impose harsher sentences when children are involved.

Marsha Scott, Director of Scottish Women’s Aid said: “This innovative new Domestic Abuse bill is the world’s gold standard for domestic abuse law, which is why I am really excited about having the opportunity to work with everyone to implement this.”

The Act also requires courts to consider imposing a Non-Harassment Order on an offender convicted of a domestic abuse offence to protect their victim from further abuse and makes a number of other reforms to criminal procedure to protect victims.

 

 

 

Image credit: Stanley Zimney, Flickr