Psychological and emotional abuse become offences for the first time from 1st April and the sheriff court system is preparing for an increase in cases.

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 is coming into force and broadens the types of behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner that can lead to being arrested and convicted.

This can now consist of any steps to control or monitor behaviour, attempts to prevent a partner from seeing friends or family, or trying to restrict movements in some other way. It will not be a defence to say that this was not intended.

The Scottish Police Federation has expressed concern that the new offences will lead to arrests being made after couples have had an argument.

But the head of Scotland’s prosecution, Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC said: “I make no apology for taking a rigorous approach to domestic abuse.

“This is a form of criminal behaviour that for far too long was not taken sufficiently seriously by the criminal justice system and which can cause significant and enduring harm to direct and indirect victims – including children.

“Domestic abuse covers a wide spectrum of offending – from one-off incidents of violence to cases involving sinister, insidious abuse persisting over many years.

“Given that the Act enables us to investigate and prosecute cases that currently are not criminal, I think it is likely that we will see more cases coming forward and more cases going to court,” he said.

The conviction rate in domestic cases in Scotland is currently 80 per cent.

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