Local police will be receiving a visit from Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, along with Ian Blackford MP today (Thursday 28 December.)
The visit will involve a discussion of local policing issues across Skye and Lochalsh - but will also enable local police to receive an update on what could become a new crime.
The Domestic Abuse Bill will reach the final stage of the parliamentary process early in 2018. It will criminalise psychological abuse and coercive control and create a new offence if passed by Parliament. The Bill 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.
Local police recently received praise for a series of Tweets to appeal directly to a young woman on the island at risk of domestic abuse from her partner.
Around 14,000 Police Scotland officers and staff are to receive enhanced training to assess instances of psychological abuse and coercive control in domestic abuse settings.
Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, introduced the Bill to Parliament in March this year and has now committed to provide additional funding specifically to train frontline officers and staff. Subject to completion of the Police Scotland tendering process, it is likely that Scottish Government funding of the training will be in the range of several hundred thousand pounds.
He said: “It’s important that as we grant new powers to police to investigate one of society’s most despicable crimes, we help ensure frontline officers and call handlers are equipped to do this. Police deal with the damage caused by domestic abuse day in day out, and this training will help them to identify some of the more insidious and damaging behaviours that perpetrators use to control their partner or ex-partner which are covered within the new offence.
“Attitudes towards domestic abuse are changing – it’s no longer seen as a private matter, or no business of criminal law.
"We’re doing everything we can to tackle the scourge that is domestic abuse at every opportunity – supporting victims, tackling perpetrators with enhanced legislation, and also tackling the underlying attitudes and inequalities that very often create the conditions for violence against women and girls to take place. There’s no place for it in Scotland and this new funding will greatly assist in tackling it.”
Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald, Police Scotland, said: “Police Scotland is committed to reducing the harm caused by domestic abuse and is working with partners to eradicate it from Scotland.
“With the passage of the new bill through Scottish Parliament, it is important we plan now to ensure that officers and staff are suitably equipped to make best use of the proposed legislation.
“We know that the controlling behaviours, used by perpetrators to maintain power and control over victims, can be both devious and devastating. However to those outwith the relationship, the ways in which a perpetrator will conceal their actions can often make them appear innocuous in isolation. We have committed to this critical training to address these issues so our officers and staff can better recognise the signs of controlling behaviours in domestic abuse, support victims and bring perpetrators to justice.”