Date lodged: 24 January 2017
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on what action it is taking to improve access to justice for victims of domestic violence.
Answered by: Michael Matheson 7 February 2017
The Scottish Government is committed to action to improve access to justice for victims of domestic violence, which is why we are investing significant levels of funding as well as bringing forward new legislation to tackle it. In 2015, we announced an additional dedicated £20 million over 2015-18 from Justice budgets to be invested in a range of measures to tackle all forms of this type of violence. Some specific funding examples include:
£1 million in each of the years 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 to ASSIST who provide vital advocacy services to domestic abuse victims in the west of Scotland;
£2.4 million in each of the years 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 to our courts and prosecutors to ensure domestic abuse cases are heard without undue delay;
£665k to the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre to extend the Centre’s capacity and geographical reach of specialist independent legal advice for victims of gender based violence.
The Programme for Government in September announced that we will introduce legislation in this Parliamentary year to create a specific offence of domestic abuse that will cover not just physical abuse but also other forms of psychological abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour that cannot easily be prosecuted using the existing criminal law. Creation of this new offence will bring clarity for victims so they can see explicitly that what their partner or ex-partner has done to them is wrong and can be dealt with under the law. Justice agencies are already showing strong leadership in this area; Police Scotland have established a National Domestic Abuse Taskforce to target the most prolific perpetrators, and the Crown Office have a dedicated National Prosecutor for Domestic Abuse.