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‘Groundbreaking’ Domestic Abuse Act comes into force

Monday 01 April 2019

A new law that criminalises psychological abuse and controlling and coercive behaviour has come into effect in Scotland.

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 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 several other reforms to criminal procedure to protect victims.

ARLA Propertymark has worked in partnership with the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) to raise awareness of the issue amongst agents. Representatives from the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance have spoken at ARLA Propertymark Regional Meetings and the two organisations have worked together to produce a Fact Sheet on supporting tenants threated with or experiencing domestic violence or abuse.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The Domestic Abuse Act makes absolutely clear that coercive and controlling behaviour is domestic abuse and a crime. I am proud Scotland is leading the way with this groundbreaking legislation, which uniquely recognises the effect of domestic abuse on child victims as well as adults.

“No-one should be forced to live like that, and I hope our powerful new public awareness campaign will encourage victims to recognise their own circumstances and to seek support with the confidence that the law is behind them.”

For police it means they can now include evidence of coercive and controlling behaviour where it forms a pattern alongside physical and sexual abuse.

The Scottish government has provided £825,000 to Police Scotland for more than 14,000 police officers and will also support staff to receive training on the new act. Police Scotland has also developed online training available to all 22,000 staff members.

Assistant chief constable Gillian MacDonald said:“Coercive and controlling behaviour can have the most profound, damaging and long-lasting effects on individuals and on our society.

“This new offence is groundbreaking. For the first time it will allow us to investigate and report the full circumstances of an abusive relationship. We will be able to include evidence of coercive and controlling behaviours where it forms a pattern of abuse, often carried out alongside other insidious behaviours, including physical and sexual abuse.

“In preparation for the change in law our officers and staff have received further training on the dynamics of power and control in abusive relationships to help recognise the signs, identify investigative opportunities and to tackle the myths and misconceptions of abuse that still exist.

“This new offence is a clear warning to abusers that all forms of domestic abuse are criminal, and that perpetrators should expect to face the full consequences of their abusive behaviour.”

An awareness campaign to increase the public’s understanding of the legal nature of domestic abuse and to encourage victims of abuse to seek help has also been launched.

Anyone in Scotland who wishes to speak to someone in confidence can call the 24-hour Domestic Abust Helpline on 0800 0271234.

Resources

Propertymark, in conjunction with DAHA (Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance) created a Fact Sheet for its Members to help them know what to look out for, how to spot signs of domestic abuse and more. This can be found in the Members section by logging in.