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Scotland’s Top Prosecutor Calls For Modernisation Of Domestic Abuse Law

Scotland’s Solicitor General, Lesley Thomson, has expressed the belief that specialist litigation would greatly contribute to the fight against domestic abuse. In her speech at the recently held COPFS Domestic Abuse Conference, Thomson said the country should embrace a more modern approach to dealing with this crime.

One way of achieving that is by making domestic abuse a specific offence. As Thomson pointed out, Scotland has made great progress in its attitude to domestic abuse; people now talk openly about it and society has come to recognise the devastating consequences it can have. However, more needs to be done, as the emotional damage inflicted by domestic abuse is often overlooked at the expense of the physical damage. If Scotland is to maintain its position as a leader in the fight against domestic abuse, it needs to be classified as a specific offence. This way, victims will be encouraged to fully acknowledge the impact and consequences of domestic abuse, including behaviours such as control and abuse through non-violent tactics.

Thomson gave the 2010 introduction of the stalking legislation as an example, which has given prosecutors greater powers to combat this behaviour. Domestic abuse is another area where specialist legislation would prove extremely helpful, she said.

Commenting on the issue, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill pointed out that the government had made domestic abuse a key priority. In order for justice to be dispensed, the Scottish police, prosecutors and courts must be granted the necessary powers. The government is working alongside justice agencies and victim support groups to determine new ways in which the criminal justice system can be helped to deal with this offence effectively, MacAskill added.

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