Date lodged: 2 November 2017
To ask the Scottish Government what consultation was carried out before Police Scotland ended its zero-tolerance policy towards domestic abuse.
Answered by: James Wolffe QC 16 November 2017
The Joint Protocol on Domestic Abuse between Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) sets out the relevant policies and approach taken by COPFS and Police Scotland to tackling domestic abuse. the current Joint Protocol, which was launched on 24 March 2017, is the revised 4th edition of the Protocol.
The Joint Protocol commits Police Scotland and COPFS to a consistent and robust approach to domestic abuse. It recognises the significant and enduring impact which domestic abuse can have on victims and children. It requires the police to report all cases in which there is a sufficiency of evidence to the procurator fiscal; and states that there is a presumption in favour of prosecution in all cases of domestic abuse where there is a sufficiency of evidence.
The Joint Protocol was revised and launched in March 2017 after extensive stakeholder engagement and consultation by COPFS and Police Scotland with a wide range of agencies and organisations with experience and expertise in domestic abuse and representing the needs and interest of victims. The consultation took place over 11 months and included both workshop events and consideration of detailed feedback and comments from stakeholders.
The Joint Protocol includes guidance on the factors to be taken into account by the police when considering whether to release an accused person way of an undertaking to appear in court or to hold the accused in custody. Consideration of any ongoing risk to the safety of victims, children or any members of the public, the nature of the offending and the likelihood of reoffending are key factors which the Joint Protocol directs police officers to take into account. The guidance is consistent with section 50 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 which, when it comes into force, will require police constables to take every precaution to ensure that a person is not unreasonably or unnecessarily held in police custody.