The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act which criminalises psychological domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour came into force on 1 April.
The Scottish government says the act is Britain’s only legislation with statutory sentencing powers to reflect the harm that can be caused to children growing up in an environment where domestic abuse takes place.
Among the act’s requirements, courts have to consider imposing a non-harassment order on an offender to protect the victim from further abuse.
Assistant chief constable Gillian MacDonald described the coercive and controlling behaviour element as ground breaking. “For the first time it will allow us to investigate and report the full circumstances of an abusive relationship … This new offence is a clear warning to abusers that all forms of domestic abuse are criminal, and that perpetrators should expect to face the full consequences of their abusive behaviour.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the act coming into force as a landmark moment for victims, while the nation’s most senior law officer, Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC, commented: “Given that the act enables us to investigate and prosecute cases that currently are not criminal, I think it is likely that we will see more cases coming forward and more cases going to court.”