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by Staff reporter
21 January 2021
MSPs express 'serious concerns' over new domestic abuse legislation

MSPs express 'serious concerns' over new domestic abuse legislation

The Scottish Parliament's justice committee has warned there are "significant concerns" over how new domestic abuse legislation would work in practice.

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill seeks to better protect victims by introducing a new offence of engaging in an abusive course of conduct against a partner or ex-partner.

The legislation also seeks to strengthen charges against those who commit offences where children are affected by abuse they see or hear.

But while backing the legislation's underlying intentions, the justice committee said both legal bodies and the police had signalled outstanding issues which could mean the bill's powers are not regularly used by law enforcement or difficult to use in practice.

The MSPs said tensions with suspected perpetrators' rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) were also highlighted, given the substantial restrictions on liberties and curtailment of rights which can be imposed by powers introduced through the bill.

The MSPs said there were a number of outstanding issues around the implementation of  court-ordered Domestic Abuse Protections Orders (DAPOs) and Domestic Abuse Protection Notices (DAPNs), which are short-term restrictions ordered by the police.

Committee convener Adam Tomkins said: “The aim of this bill, to provide further protection to victims of domestic abuse, is a laudable one, which all members would support.

“However, we have significant concerns about how these proposals would work in practice.

“While on balance we believe that DAPOs and DAPNs would be a useful additional tool for the police to have, it is of fundamental importance that this bill fully respects the European Convention on Human Rights.

“And to actually help those it seeks to give better protections to, officers on the ground must be able to use the law with confidence."


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