Ahead of a new bill which criminalises psychological domestic abuse, all judicial office holders in Scotland are to receive specific training that will focus on knowledge and understanding of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018.
The interactive learning package will help build on the practicalities and issues arising for the judiciary, from investigation and prosecution through to the conviction and sentencing process. All judges across Scotland will be allocated to one of the eight face-to-face courses that are taking place in the Institute’s purpose-built judicial learning suite throughout 2019.
The Act, which comes into force as of the 1st April 2019, introduces new offences, including a person engaging in a course of behaviour which is abusive towards that person’s partner or ex-partner.
The new law will include psychological abuse on top of physical abuse, recognising that not all kinds of domestic abuse are violent. Under the new Act, behaviour which cannot be as easily prosecuted under existing law – such as someone who has coercive control over another – will also be prohibited.
A number of external contributors – including representatives from Scottish Women’s Aid and the Caledonian System – will be involved in the face-to-face course to assist judges in understanding how the new offence will be investigated and prosecuted.
Director of the Judicial Institute, Sheriff Alistair Duff, concluded:
“This is important given the complexities of the new concepts of coercive control and psychological abuse where there may be no physical violence. The resources will live on our award-winning virtual learning environment, the Judicial Hub, and will support judges before and during their first cases.”
A consultation has also been launched, seeking views on the introduction of protective orders which would give the police and courts the ability to prohibit an individual from a home they share with a person at risk of domestic abuse and ban them from having contact with that person.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said:
“The new measure which come into force in April can make a real and important difference to people who experience these crimes and will make it absolutely clear that this behaviour is wrong and can be prosecuted.”
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