Scottish parliament reviewing domestic violence laws

A Bill is being drafted in the Scottish parliament to amend the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 to allow contributions of civil legal aid in certain proceedings arising from domestic abuse. The bill has been proposed by Rhoda Grant MSP. This is to allow more victims of domestic violence to access legal aid to be represented in court. Many of these victims may have be experiencing financial abuse and may no longer work due to either mental health issues or their partner’s refusal to allow them access to work.

The Bill also introduces a new section into the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The purpose of this new section is to remove the requirement to show a course of conduct before a non-harassment order can be granted in civil proceedings involving domestic abuse. Instead, the bill makes it competent for the court to grant a non-harassment order after one instance of harassing behaviour. Many campaigners welcome this new legislation.

Additionally legislation in Scotland seeks to prosecute offenders who perpetrate psychological abuse towards their victims. Politicians and women’s groups involved in pushing for and creating the legislation have said they recognise the terrible effects non-physical abuse can have on victims that can be long lasting and wide ranging effects.

An article in the Glasgow Herald covering legislation can be accessed here.

A BBC news report covers debate in the Scottish parliament is available here.

New UK Department of Health guidance on domestic violence

 

DH policy document dv

A new document has been published by the Department of Health in the UK as a resource for NHS staff and other professionals working with people who have experienced domestic violence. The document is called ‘Responding to domestic abuse: a resource for health professionals.’ The resource looks at how health professionals can support adults and young people over 16 who are experiencing domestic abuse, and dependent children in their households.

It aims to help health staff to identify potential victims, initiate sensitive routine enquiry and respond effectively to disclosures of abuse. Commissioners will gain insight into services to support people experiencing domestic violence and abuse, and the importance of joined-up local strategic planning.

The resource draws on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence multi-agency guidelines on domestic violence and abuse, and provides:

  • the legal and policy contexts of domestic abuse in England
  • information for commissioners on effective integrated care pathways
  • information for service providers on shaping service delivery
  • what health practitioners need to know and do
  • information to ensure the right pathway and services are in place locally

The new guidance document can be downloaded here.