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Scotland tightens domestic abuse laws

 

Move will compliment "gold standard" of legislation

Equality campaigners have applauded moves for new protective orders to keep perpetrators away from the household of someone at risk of abuse.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the move would complement Scotland’s “gold standard” domestic abuse legislation, giving police increased power to take action against perpetrators.

In contrast with existing civil measures such as Non-Harassment Orders and Exclusion Orders, protective orders would not require the person at risk to make the application to the court themselves.

Police would be allowed to impose a short-term order directly and to apply to a court to put in place a longer-term order.

Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “Domestic abuse is the leading cause of women’s homelessness in Scotland. This bill, if passed, would be an immediate and significant improvement, offering children and women a breathing space as they seek safety.

“Without this legislation, women experiencing domestic abuse in Scotland will continue to have to choose between staying in the home with an abuser or making themselves and their children homeless to get away from the abuse.”

Dr Scott added: “As survivors have asked for years, why should those being abused, rather than the perpetrator, have to leave their homes, pets, and belongings?

“We very much welcome today’s announcement and look forward to engaging with the Scottish Government on the detail of the legislation going forward.”

Sturgeon said: “Parliament came together to pass what campaigners described as ‘gold standard’ domestic abuse laws, creating a specific new offence that included not only physical abuse but other forms of psychological abuse and coercive, controlling behaviour.

“We need to change the reality that for many women and their children the only way to escape an abuser is to flee their home. It should not be the victims of abuse who lose their homes, it should be the perpetrators.

“So we will introduce a bill in this parliament to give police and courts new powers to remove suspected perpetrators from the homes of those at risk.”

She added: “Such orders would allow Scotland’s justice system to safeguard people who, for example, are being controlled to such an extent that they could not initiate court action themselves, and give victims time to seek advice on longer-term housing options.

“While violent crime has significantly reduced in Scotland over the last decade, instances of domestic abuse - an appalling, often hidden crime - remain far too high. Our legislative reforms, together with work to promote healthy relationships and tackle the roots of gender-based violence, can help build a safer Scotland.”

 

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