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Support for Abusive Behaviour Bill 21/01/2016 The Justice Committee has published a report supporting the general principles of a Scottish Government Bill that aims to improve how the justice system responds to abusive behaviour.

Support for Abusive Behaviour Bill

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has published a report supporting the general principles of a Scottish Government Bill that aims to improve how the justice system responds to abusive behaviour.

The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill aims to prevent abuse, harassment or sexual harm in a number of ways, via both the criminal and the civil law. It also extends the circumstances where courts may grant non-harassment orders against individuals, and updates the law on the prevention of sexual harm by people considered to be at risk of offending.

In its Stage 1 Report, the Justice Committee has endorsed the case for the creation of a new specific offence for the non-consensual sharing of private, intimate images – often referred to as “revenge porn.”

A majority of the Committee also support the introduction of statutory jury directions in sexual offence cases – that is, the proposed obligation on a judge to tell a jury that there can be good reasons why a victim might not report or resist an offence at the time the alleged offence was committed.

“Everyone agrees that we need strong, tough laws to deal with abuse and sexual harm. New laws should also be flexible enough to respond to new developments and changed circumstances,” said Committee Convener Christine Grahame MSP.

The Committee was unanimously agreed on the need to take effective steps to tackle abusive behaviour, she said, and therefore accepted the broad principles of the draft Bill. However, because there were many different aspects to the Bill, not everyone on the Committee agreed with all of its provisions.

“For example not everyone agreed that a case has been made for statutory jury directions, and expert evidence was split. But a clear majority of the Committee thought that bringing in these proposals would serve the interests of justice,” she explained.

“The Committee as a whole was sceptical about extending non-harassment orders to people found not fit to plead at a criminal trial,” she added. “The Committee also agreed that there was a strong case for a new offence of non-consensually sharing intimate images, although we have asked the Government to look again at some of the details of the offence.”

More information can be found here.

 

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