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Psychological domestic abuse is now a crime under 'groundbreaking' new law

As of 1 April 2019, new legislation has come into force that criminalises psychological domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour.

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act, which was passed by the Scottish parliament in February 2018, makes several reforms to criminal procedure with the purpose of protecting victims. This will include requiring courts to consider imposing a non-harassment order on a domestic abuse offender to protect their victim from further abuse.

A Scottish government awareness campaign has also been launched with the hope of improving the public’s understanding of the legal consequences surrounding domestic abuse and to encourage victims to seek help.

What constitutes abusive behaviour under the new Act?

Under new legislation, behaviour which is abusive includes:

  • Controlling, regulating or monitoring a partner’s day-to-day activities
  • Degrading, humiliating, frightening or punishing a partner
  • Depriving, or restricting, a partner’s freedom of action
  • Isolating a partner from friends, relatives or support
  • Making a partner feel dependent or subordinate

Children and the Domestic Abuse Act

Additionally, the 2018 Act is the only legislation in the UK with a specific sentencing aggravation to reflect the impact that domestic abuse can have on children. The offence is considered aggravated if a child witnesses an incident of domestic abuse or the child is likely to be adversely affected as a result of the offence (such as causing the child to suffer fear or distress). Section 5 of the Domestic Abuse Act confirms that there does not need to be evidence that the child has ever been aware of the offender’s behaviour or understands the nature of the offender’s behaviour, and that ‘evidence from a single source is sufficient to prove that the offence is so aggravated’.

Humza Yousaf, Justice Secretary, concluded:

“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.”

Contact our Domestic Abuse Solicitors Glasgow, Scotland

If domestic abuse allegations have been made against you, it is crucial that you speak with a qualified criminal defence lawyer for specialist legal advice and representation. Do not delay and contact Keith J Tuck Solicitors today via the online enquiry form.

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