Do­mes­tic abusers abroad to face trial here

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Gra­ham Grant Home Af­fairs Ed­i­tor

DO­MES­TIC abusers who com­mit crimes abroad will face trial in Scot­tish courts un­der pro­posed new leg­is­la­tion.

Scots courts will have the power to pros­e­cute such cases in­volv­ing Scot­tish res­i­dents and UK na­tion­als – even if the abuse hap­pens out­side the coun­try.

MSPs yes­ter­day ex­am­ined a planned new law which crim­i­nalises psy­cho­log­i­cal abuse and co­er­cive con­trol – and pro­poses a bail crack­down for the worst of­fend­ers.

The Scot­tish par­lia­ment’s jus­tice com­mit­tee scru­ti­nised the Do­mes­tic Abuse Bill at the sec­ond stage of the par­lia­men­tary process. Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Michael Mathe­son suc­cess­fully put for­ward an amend­ment to give Scot­tish courts the power to pros­e­cute do­mes­tic abuse cases in­volv­ing UK na­tion­als or ha­bit­ual Scot­tish res­i­dents which hap­pen out­side Scot­land.

He said: ‘This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant given that the of­fence is con­sti­tuted by a course of be­hav­iour that can oc­cur over time in var­i­ous places.’

He gave an ex­am­ple of a cou­ple in an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship where part of the abuse took place while on holiday in Spain.

The amend­ment was agreed, as were fur­ther changes cre­at­ing a pre­sump­tion against grant­ing bail in se­ri­ous do­mes­tic abuse cases and en­sur­ing the im­pact on chil­dren is re­flected in sen­tenc­ing.

The SNP’s Linda Fabi­ani pro­posed a change to make non­ha­rass­ment or­ders, known as re­strain­ing or­ders, manda­tory but with­drew it when con­cerns were raised.

Mr Mathe­son said the change would ‘go too far’ in re­mov­ing the abil­ity of judges to make de­ci­sions on the or­ders.

Plans by Labour MSP Claire Baker to amend the Bill to roll out do­mes­tic abuse courts across Scot­land, end­ing the ‘post­code lottery’ over hav­ing cases heard by these spe­cial­ist courts, will be dis­cussed at the next meet­ing on De­cem­ber 5.

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