The Scottish Government has today (10 Jan 2023) published the results of research projects examining the experiences of a small sample of witnesses – including children – in domestic abuse cases since the implementation of the DASA legislation on 1 April 2019.
Recent statistical information on the progress and outcomes of domestic abuse cases in court since the introduction of the Act was also analysed for the interim report. A full report will be published later this year.
Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC welcomed the findings to date, in particular the valued contribution of victims and witnesses who have experienced the criminal justice system.
She pledged the commitment of the Crown to continue wide-ranging training and modernisation within Scotland’s prosecution service, as well as working closely with justice partners to better meet the needs of victims.
The senior law officer said:
“I am pleased to see the important and innovative Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 being assessed through the early stages since its implementation.
“We will listen and respond where areas of improvement have been suggested.
“I note the interim research finds that this leading piece of legislation is better capturing the lived experience of victims. This is a particularly significant finding, given the limitations on our work imposed by the pandemic.
“COPFS is committed to the rigorous and fair prosecution of domestic abuse and to supporting victims and witnesses through the prosecution process.
“Along with our partners in the criminal justice system, we are seeking always to improve our service and maintain a forward-thinking approach in order to better meet the needs of victims.
“The modernisation and training currently underway at COPFS includes a review of our Victim Information and Advice service, a pilot scheme aimed at improving direct communication between prosecutors and domestic abuse victims, and work with partners to strengthen reporting on the impact on and views of children in connection with domestic abuse cases.
“We are determined to increase the confidence of victims in the criminal justice system and welcome their feedback.”
The report states:
“It is widely reported that the Act is held up as an exemplar piece of legislation internationally, which reflects a modern understanding of domestic abuse and provides the necessary legislative tools to address new forms of criminal behaviour.
“The research findings broadly echoed sentiments that the Act is a leading piece of legislation which better reflects the lived experience of victims, as evidenced by their accounts of psychological, physical and, for some, sexual harm over time.”
The reporting highlights robust prosecution response to domestic abuse. In 2021/22, prosecutors raised proceedings in 93% of domestically aggravated charges and in 95% of DASA charges.
The Interim Report and research reports are published here: Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 – Interim Reporting Requirement - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
Procurator Fiscal Moira Price, who leads on domestic abuse prosecutions for COPFS, said:
“This is a complex area of work and COPFS has responded to challenges in the application of the new legislation, introducing training for prosecutors and partners in criminal justice.
“Working with our partners across the criminal justice system, we will continue to seek to ensure the new legislation is applied effectively. It is a priority for all prosecutors that we play a key role in delivering justice for victims of domestic abuse.”