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30 January 2019, 07:32 | Updated: 30 January 2019, 07:34
All judges and sheriffs in Scotland will be given specific training on domestic abuse, it has been announced.
The training will be provided ahead of the introduction of legislation which will create a new offence which criminalises physical and psychological abuse of partners or ex-partners.
The Judicial Institute for Scotland, the body responsible for educating and training Scotland's judiciary, has launched an interactive blended learning package for the entire professional judiciary.
The online training will focus on knowledge and understanding of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, which comes into force on April 1 this year.
All judges in Scotland will also be allocated to one of eight face-to-face domestic abuse courses taking place in the institute's purpose-built judicial learning suite over the course of 2019.
The face-to-face courses will build on the online learning and focus on the practicalities and issues arising for the judiciary, from investigation and prosecution to conviction and sentencing.
A number of external contributors, including representatives from Scottish Women's Aid, will be involved in the face-to-face training to assist judges in understanding how the new offence will be investigated and prosecuted, as well as gaining an insight into the impact of the criminal behaviour on victims and children.
Sheriff Alistair Duff, director of the Judicial Institute, said: "This approach allows us to provide all judicial office holders in Scotland with an early opportunity to engage with learning about the new offence.
"This is important given the complexities of the new concepts of coercive control and psychological abuse where there may be no physical violence.
"The resource will live on our award-winning virtual learning environment, the Judicial Hub, and will support judges before and during their first cases."