Victims and children at heart of domestic abuse protocol

The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC and Assistant chief constable Mark Williams today launched a new Joint Protocol on Domestic Abuse.

The agreement commits Police Scotland and the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service to a “consistent and robust” approach to domestic abuse and recognises the “significant and enduring impact which domestic abuse can have on victims and children”.

It replaces the existing Joint Protocol on Domestic Abuse between police and prosecutors. Under the revised Joint Protocol:

  • The role of children will be more visible in the investigation and prosecution process.
  • There will be an expanded definition of domestic abuse to reflect increased understanding of the crime.
  • Additional guidance is given on the reporting of counter allegations to reduce the fear by victims that they could be arrested.
  • A strong emphasis is placed on the need for a sufficiency of evidence before action can be taken by prosecutors.
  • Guidance is given on the circumstances in which an accused person may be released on an undertaking to appear at court.

Mr Wolffe said: “Domestic abuse can have serious and lasting impacts on the victim – and also on children and other members of the family. It should have no place in today’s Scotland. The joint protocol reflects the continuing commitment of police and prosecutors to addressing domestic abuse effectively and rigorously.”

He added: “This week we have seen the introduction of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill which breaks new ground in its understanding of domestic abuse and the consequences it can have on victims and children. The bill recognises that domestic abuse may involve a course of conduct rather than a single incident or isolated incidents. It also recognises that abuse can take many forms including non-violent coercive control which can undermine the victim’s dignity and humanity.

“This progressive offence recognises that domestic abuse is about more than physical harm. Domestic abuse can break a victim’s spirit and restrict victims’ freedom and ability to live their life as they choose. The updated protocol put in place by police and prosecutors will ensure that we continue to maintain a consistent investigative and enforcement approach to this particular form of criminality.”