MSPs Debate Domestic Abuse Courts

21 November 2017, 08:11 | Updated: 21 November 2017, 08:12

Abuse victim

Labour has called for cross-party support for its proposal to roll out domestic abuse courts across Scotland.

MSPs will debate a new domestic abuse law at Holyrood on Tuesday which criminalises psychological abuse and coercive control.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson introduced the Domestic Abuse Bill to the Scottish Parliament in March and it is now at the second stage.

Labour's justice spokeswoman Claire Baker has lodged an amendment to the proposed legislation to end the "postcode lottery" over having cases heard by specialist domestic abuse courts.

There are currently domestic abuse courts in Glasgow and Edinburgh with cluster courts in Dunfermline, Livingston, Ayr and Falkirk.

Ms Baker said: "Across Scotland we currently face a postcode lottery when it comes to domestic abuse cases. We have seen a number of recent examples that indicate where your trial is heard makes a difference to the experience of the victim and the outcome of the trial

"I believe domestic abuse courts would provide greater confidence in justice being delivered for victims of domestic abuse."

She added: "We must be clear, there is no place for domestic abuse in a modern and progressive Scotland. It is a scourge on our society and we must all work together to tackle it."

The Scottish Government has also put forward amendments which, if passed, would give Scottish courts power to prosecute domestic abuse cases involving UK nationals or habitual Scottish residents which happen outside Scotland.

The amendments would also create a presumption against granting bail in serious cases and ensure the impact on children is reflected in sentencing.

Mr Matheson said: "Domestic abuse is a disgusting crime that continues to damage the lives of too many people in Scotland.

"We are working to tackle unacceptable attitudes to physical and other forms of abuse, including gender-based violence, while police and prosecutors are doing much to better identify and prosecute offenders.

"We are determined to continue listening to survivors of domestic abuse and those who work to support them, including their evidence to Parliament, to ensure we get this right.

"That is why I am proposing further measures this week."