Courts in Scotland given further powers to limit alleged abusers contact with victims
MSPs have voted unanimously to pass further protections for the victims of domestic abuse.
The Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Bill, which was passed at stage three on Wednesday, will give courts the ability to implement domestic abuse protections orders (DAPO).
The order would place restrictions on the actions of someone accused of domestic abuse, including prohibiting contact with their accuser or being removed from a shared home.
The Bill also creates powers for the police to issue domestic abuse protections notices (DAPN), which would do the same as the DAPOs, but in the shorter term before courts can issue an order.
A DAPO can be in place for up to two months, with the possibility of a one-month extension.
The Bill would also allow for social landlords to apply to end the Scottish secure tenancy of someone who has been suspected of domestic abuse, as long as they allow the victim to remain in the home.
Speaking in a debate on the Bill in Holyrood, justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Legislation alone, we know, cannot address the issue of domestic abuse.
“However, ensuring appropriate powers are available through this legislation does have a key role to play.
“The Bill will, once implemented, provide our courts, police and social landlords with significant new powers to deal with domestic abuse.
“Use of these powers will reduce the risk that the only way a person can escape an abusive partner is to flee their own home, often having to take their children with them or indeed, in an even worse situation, leaving their children behind and then having to rely on emergency homeless provision – that cannot be right.”
Yousaf added: “We collectively have a duty to ensure our law can keep people safe in their own homes, I believe this Bill provides law enforcement agencies with those tools and allows us to fulfil that collective duty.”
Scottish Tory justice spokesman Liam Kerr raised concerns that the Scottish Government’s presumption against short sentences, which means sentences of less than 12 months in prison are not given to offenders, may mean those who breach these orders will not face time behind bars.
Despite this, Kerr said: “The Scottish Conservatives will always stand up for the victims of crime, that’s why we’re very pleased to support this Bill at decision time tonight.”
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