MSPs pass law expanding definition of domestic abuse to include controlling behaviour

Written by Jenni Davidson on 2 February 2018 in News

Justice secretary Michael Matheson said it was a “momentous day”

Scottish Parliament chamber - Image credit: Anita Gould

Psychological abuse is to become be a criminal offence MSPs passed new legislation that expands what can be prosecuted as domestic abuse.

As well as physical abuse, the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill covers coercive and controlling behaviour that cannot currently be prosecuted easily under other laws.

It will now be possible to treat abuse in its totality as a single offence, allowing courts to consider the whole course of abuse and sentence abusers accordingly.

Justice secretary Michael Matheson said: “I am pleased parliament has come together to pass this legislation.

“This is a momentous day as our laws will be changed so they reflect the experience all too many women have suffered.

“Attitudes towards domestic abuse have changed considerably since this parliament was established in 1999.

“Back then, some were of the mindset that domestic abuse – especially where it did not involve physical violence – was a private matter.

“Attitudes have rightly changed – albeit further work is needed to challenge lingering outdated or dismissive attitudes.

“I am very grateful to the domestic abuse survivors who presented their evidence to the Justice Committee.

“Their courage helped shaped the legislation I brought to parliament, and their actions will help the justice system prosecute those who commit one of society’s most insidious crimes.”

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