The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill will introduce an offence of ‘Abusive behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner’. It also provides for an associated statutory aggravation that the perpetrator, in committing the new offence, involved or affected a child, or that a child saw, heard or was present during an incident of the perpetrator’s behaviour that happened as part of the course of abusive behaviour amounting to the offence.
The Bill also makes a number of associated reforms to criminal procedure, evidence and sentencing relating to the creation of an offence of domestic abuse.
The Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment process identified an issue around the extent to which the experience of children growing up in circumstances where their parent or carer is a victim of domestic abuse is reflected in the criminal law and noted that domestic abuse can often be experienced by the children of an abused partner in a very similar way to that partner. To address this, some changes were made to the drafting of the offence, and a statutory aggravation concerning children was added.