Ruth Maguire MSP has today welcomed the publication of a new bill which, if passed by Parliament, will give powers to police and courts to remove suspected abusers from victims ’homes and ban them from re‑entering.
The Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Bill will also allow social landlords to end or transfer a tenancy of a perpetrator of domestic abuse to prevent a victim becoming homeless and enabling them to remain in the family home.
The SNP MSP for Cunninghame South said: “This is a hugely significant step in offering protection for women and children experiencing and at risk of violence in their homes. The publication of this Bill is a clear message from the Scottish Government that violence against women will not be tolerated.
“Home is not a safe place for everybody during this time and the powers that will be given to police and courts under this new Bill is a welcome addition to the suite of support options available to those in need of protection from harm. The additional protection offered by allowing those affected to remain in their homes will minimise the disruption to life caused by domestic violence which so often leaves women at risk of becoming homeless.
“Please do not hesitate to take action if you believe your safety is at risk, funding has been allocated to local organisations and charities in order to respond safely to demand for frontline services.”
Dr Marsha Scott, Chief Executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “The publication of this Bill is a milestone moment for women, children and young people experiencing domestic abuse who for years have asked us why it should be them, rather than their abusers, who have to leave their homes, pets and belongings to seek safety.
“Domestic abuse is the leading cause of women’s homelessness in Scotland, with women often facing the impossible choice between living with an abuser and making themselves and their children homeless. We have long said that Emergency Protective Orders will make an immediate and significant difference for those women and children, offering them respite and breathing space as they seek support and safety. The role of social landlords is also key in this, and so new powers to allow them to help survivors of domestic abuse to remain in the family home are welcome news.
“We look forward to continued engagement with colleagues from all parties to strengthen the legislation even further as it makes its way through Parliament.”
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of protecting women and girls who find themselves isolated and vulnerable due to the actions of an abusive partner.
“This new Bill will apply to all those at risk of domestic abuse, but we know women are disproportionally affected, representing 80% of victims. A person’s home should be a place of safety and the new orders being introduced will give victims of domestic abuse space and time to address their longer term safety and housing situation.
“The Bill builds on our legislation that came into force last year giving police and prosecutors greater powers to target those who engage in coercive or controlling behaviour.
“The Scottish Government is determined to protect everyone from domestic abuse and, at the same time, we will continue to implement our Equally Safe strategy with a focus on supporting women and children at risk of abuse.”
The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) (Protection) Bill is published online.