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.