Justice Committee looking at Domestic Abuse Bill


Proposals to outlaw psychological domestic abuse are to be considered by MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee.

The Scottish Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill creates a new offence aimed at strengthening existing laws against people who abuse their partners, including new measures to tackle psychological abuse.

Under the draft Bill, intimidating, isolating or humiliating a partner or ex-partner, or controlling their freedom, would become illegal. However, the committee will also explore concerns already expressed by some about how these new offences might be proved in court, and whether the behaviour should actually be illegal.

The committee has today launched a call for evidence to hear views from the people who will be working directly with this new law, and importantly those who it seeks to help.

Committee Convener, Margaret Mitchell MSP, said:

“These proposals recognise that domestic abuse is not limited to physical abuse. Psychological abuse can be just as pernicious as hitting and kicking.

“However, it is clear the Bill will require detailed scrutiny. The committee is seeking views on this law’s necessity, and will look to ensure the Bill does not end up being well-intentioned but unworkable legislation.

“In addition to women’s groups, the committee want to hear from law enforcement bodies, legal bodies, academics and other stakeholders who want to ensure the laws work for anyone suffering from domestic abuse.”

In particular, the committee is looking to hear:

  • If there is a consensus with the idea of introducing this category of offence, which would criminalise non-violent but abusive behaviour, and its workability in practice;
  • What factors might influence the reporting, investigating and prosecuting of the proposed offence;
  • Whether the Bill sufficiently takes into account the impact of domestic abuse on children;
  • Views on the Government’s definitions of “abusive behaviour”, “partner”, “ex-partner”; the Evidence of Impact on Victim and other stipulations set out in the Bill.

The call for evidence closes on 1 May 2017. It is available online here http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/104171.aspx.


This Scottish Government Bill was introduced by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson MSP, on 17 March 2017. It is available online: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/103883.aspx


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