Call for evidence on the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Bill

 Call for written evidence on the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee is seeking views on the general principles of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill, a Scottish Government Bill which was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 8 October 2015. The Bill and accompanying documents (including the Policy Memorandum, which explains the aims of the Bill) can be found here:

The Justice Committee expects to be appointed lead Committee for Stage 1 of the Bill later in October and to take evidence on the Bill at meetings in November and December, before reporting on the general principles around the New Year. In advance of those sessions, the Committee is interested in hearing written views on—

  • Section 1, which enables offences involving the abuse of a partner, or ex-partner to be treated as aggravated offences, meaning that the convicted person may be liable to a tougher sentence;
  • Section 2, which creates a new offence of disclosing, or threatening to disclose, an intimate photograph or film. The Committee would be particularly interested in hearing views on whether there is a gap in the law that justifies the creation of a new offence and, if so, whether the definition of the offence in section 2 is sufficiently robust;
  • Section 5, which amends current law to allow non-harassment orders, in some circumstances, be granted against individuals who have not been convicted of misconduct towards another person; 
  • Section 6, which would require a judge to give particular directions to the jury in sexual offence cases about whether to draw inferences from particular evidence being led or not led. The Committee would be particularly interested in hearing views on whether this provision amounts to a legitimate constraint on judicial discretion and whether it would make it more likely that justice would be delivered in individual cases; 
  •  Sections 7 and 8, which would enable the Scottish courts to prosecute sexual offences against children or young people committed by a Scots-domiciled person elsewhere in the UK;
  • Chapters 3 and 4 of Part 2, which reform the system of civil orders available to protect individuals and communities from individuals considered to be at risk of causing sexual harm. The Committee would be particularly interested on views as to whether these reforms appear to be an improvement on current law;
  • Other matters: any other matter considered relevant to the subject matter of the Bill, including whether there are provisions related to abuse or domestic violence that are not in the Bill but ought to be.

Format of written submissions

The Justice Committee invites all interested organisations and individuals to submit written evidence on the Bill no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 17 November.

Before you draft a submission, please read the Parliament’s policy on the treatment of written evidence by subject and mandatory committees. Please also ensure that your submission:

  • is concise, preferably no longer than 4 sides of A4 (longer submissions should include an opening summary)
  • is set out in numbered paragraphs
  • includes hyperlinks or full citations when you are referring to existing published material (this is preferable to quoting extensive extracts)
  • is provided electronically in word processing format (e.g. Microsoft Word or Apple pages) wherever possible.

Your submission will be published on the Committee webpages. However, if you would prefer your evidence to be treated confidentially, please contact the justice clerks (at the contact details below) before submitting your evidence. It is for the Committee to take any decision on whether to accept a submission on the basis that it will not be published (although it would be seen in full by the Committee). The Parliament is however required to consider requests for information under freedom of information legislation and we therefore cannot guarantee that the evidence will never be released. 

Submit your evidence:    

       by email to:

[email protected]

       Or in hard copy to: Justice Committee Clerks

Room T2.60, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP 

If you have any queries about written submissions, please contact the justice clerks on 0131 348 5047 or at the contact details above.


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