Between March and June 2015, the Scottish Government consulted on whether a specific offence of domestic abuse would improve the ability of police and prosecutors to tackle domestic abuse. Analysis of the consultation responses indicated strong agreement that the current law does not reflect the experience of victims and that a specific offence would improve the ability of the justice system to respond to this crime. There was, however, a range of views on how a new offence could be developed.
In the Programme for Government in September 2015, the First Minister announced that the Scottish Government would publish a draft of a specific offence to deal with those who commit psychological abuse and engage in coercive and controlling behaviour.
We are now seeking the views of stakeholders on a draft offence published with this consultation to inform its development before legislating. The consultation seeks views both on the general principles underlying the approach taken in drafting the offence, and on a number of specific issues including the maximum penalty and the defences available to the offence.