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New domestic abuse law now in force

The new law concerning domestic abuse in Scotland has now come into force, making coercive and controlling behaviour a crime. The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, passed by the Scottish Parliament in February 2018 has been widely supported and seen as the ‘gold standard’ of domestic abuse law.

To accompany the law coming to force, a Scottish government awareness campaign was launched to improve public understanding of what coercive and controlling behaviour is, and how far-reaching the problem is in Scotland.

The new legislation looks to tackle the full spectrum of domestic abuse, not just physical violence. The act makes provision for emotional treatment, where abusers isolate their partner from friends and family and make attempts to control their finances. This is all intimidating, violent and threatening behaviour which can have a severe effect on victims and can have an adverse impact on children.

Police Scotland officers have also been provided with additional training to allow them to deal with the change in the law more effectively. Police can now include evidence of coercive and controlling behaviour where it forms a pattern alongside physical and sexual abuse. Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald, crime and protection lead for Police Scotland, said:

"This new offence is groundbreaking. For the first time, it will allow us to investigate and report the full circumstances of an abusive relationship.”

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