Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Bill

Closes 4 Dec 2020

Opened 10 Nov 2020

Overview

The Justice Committee will scrutinise the Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Bill in the coming months. The Committee is therefore asking for views on the Bill.

What does the Bill aim to do?

According to the Scottish Government the provisions of the Bill are intended to improve the protections available for people who are at risk of domestic abuse, particularly where they are living with the perpetrator of the abuse.

The Bill will do this by providing courts with a new power to make a Domestic Abuse Protection Order (“DAPO”) which can impose requirements and prohibitions on a suspected perpetrator of domestic abuse, including removing them from a home they share with a person at risk and prohibiting them from contacting or otherwise abusing the person at risk while the order is in effect.  The Bill will also provide a power for the police, where necessary, to impose a very short-term Domestic Abuse Protection Notice (“DAPN”) ahead of applying to the court for a full order.

The Bill is also intended to help improve the immediate and longer-term housing outcomes of domestic abuse victims who live in social housing, including by helping to avoid homelessness.  The Bill will do this by creating a new ground on which a social landlord can apply to the court to end the tenancy of the perpetrator with a view to transferring it to the victim of domestic abuse or end the perpetrator’s interest in the tenancy where the perpetrator and victim are joint tenants, and enable the victim to remain in the family home.

Background to the Bill

The Bill was introduced by the Scottish Government on 2 October 2020. A copy of the Bill and the accompanying documents can be found here.

The Scottish Government has also produced the following impact assessments for the Bill:

Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA): https://www.gov.scot/publications/domestic-abuse-protection-scotland-bill-eqia/

Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA): https://www.gov.scot/publications/domestic-abuse-protection-scotland-bill-dpia/

Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA): https://www.gov.scot/publications/domestic-abuse-protection-scotland-bill-crwia/

What does the Committee want to know?

We want to know:

The Committee welcomes your views on any issue relating to the Bill. This could include views on any of the following areas or questions:

Support for the Bill in general and the main provisions

  1. Do you agree that a senior police officer should be able to impose a short-term Domestic Abuse Protection Notice (DAPN), without first seeking court approval, as proposed in sections 4-7 of the Bill? If so, what advantages would a DAPN have over the existing police and court powers?
     
  2. Do you agree that the civil courts should be given powers to make a Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO), as proposed in section 8-16 of the Bill? If so, what advantages would a DAPO have over the existing police and court powers?

Extension of the provisions to other types of family relationship or circumstance

  1. Section 1 of the Bill requires the two people covered by the DAPN or DAPO to be spouses, civil partners or in an 'intimate personal relationship' with each other. In addition, the suspected perpetrator must be aged 18 or over and the person at risk must be 16 or over. Do you agree with this overall approach or do you wish to suggest any changes? In the Domestic Abuse Bill, that is currently making its way through the UK Parliament, a broader approach is proposed for England and Wales, extending to other family relationships and people sharing a house in other circumstances.

Processes to be used for imposing a notice or granting of an order, timescales and the role of the police

  1. Under section 8 of the Bill only police officers would be able to apply to the court for a DAPO. Do you agree with this approach or do you think the power to apply should be extended to other individuals or organisations? If the latter, who would you wish to include?
     
  2. Do you agree with the tests (set out in section 4 and section 8 of the Bill) which must be satisfied for the making of a DAPN and a DAPO respectively?
     
  3. Do you support the definition of ‘abusive behaviour’ (in sections 2 and 3) which is a key component of those tests?
     
  4. Under the Bill, a DAPN lasts until a DAPO (or interim DAPO) is made. A DAPO can last for a maximum of three months. Do you agree with the proposed maximum periods the DAPN and DAPO can last for?
     
  5. Do you agree that breach of a DAPN and breach of a DAPO should be a criminal offence, as proposed in sections 7 and 12 of the Bill? Do you support the penalties proposed for breach of a DAPN and breach of a DAPO?

The content of the notice and order – including how the Bill impacts children

  1. Sections 5 and 9 of the Bill says which obligations a DAPN and a DAPO can include. As well as obligations relating to the person at risk’s home and contact with the person at risk, both a DAPN and a DAPO can impose obligations relating to a child usually living with a person at risk. Do you agree with the approach of the Bill under sections 5 and 9 or do you wish to suggest any changes?
     
  2. Do you think the Bill is clear about what should happen when the terms of a notice or order conflicts with an order relating to children imposed under family law?

Removal of a domestic abuse perpetrator’s interest in a Scottish secure tenancy

  1. Do you agree with the approach in section 18 of the Bill, introducing an additional ground to end a social housing tenant’s interest in a tenancy? If so, what benefits does this power have over and above existing statutory powers?

Additional issues not covered by the above

Your response does not need to cover all of these areas and you can focus on those that are relevant to you or your organisation. Also, you are welcome to cover other areas in your submission that you think are relevant to the Committee’s consideration of the Bill.

  1. If you are responding on behalf of an organisation, what impact (if any) would the Bill have on your organisation? Is there any issue associated with the Bill you wish to comment on, not already covered by questions 1-9?

Timeline

The Bill was introduced on 2 October 2020. You can read the Bill (and a Policy Memorandum, Explanatory Notes and Financial Memorandum) on the Parliament’s website.

The Justice Committee will look at the Bill at stage 1.

At stage 1, committees look at the general principles of the Bill. However it’s also an opportunity to raise more specific concerns that could be looked at by amendments in stage 2 and 3.

Find out more about Bill stages on our website.

The Justice Committee hopes to consider written submissions and hear from witnesses in December 2020.

How to submit your views

You can submit your views via the online submisson form, linked to below, until Friday 4 December 2020.

Please note that the Justice Committee does not involve itself in individual cases or complaints. While you may draw on any of your own personal experiences, your submission should focus on issues relating to the Bill. There are a few situations where we may not choose to publish your evidence or have to edit it before publication for legal reasons, including data protection and defamation.

Before making a submission, please read our privacy notice about submitting your views to a committee. This tells you about how we process your personal data. It is particularly important to note that we would not normally publish information that we consider to be defamatory or which contains personal information about a third party.

We welcome written views in English, Gaelic, Scots or any other language. Due to the time required to process and analyse evidence, late submissions will only be accepted with the agreement of the clerk.

 

Interests

  • Justice