Abusers should be forced to move out – not their victims

Under proposed new legislation, perpetrators will be forced to move out. (Photo: Laura Dodsworth / Scottish Womens Aid)
Under proposed new legislation, perpetrators will be forced to move out. (Photo: Laura Dodsworth / Scottish Womens Aid)

Police and courts will be given new powers to remove suspected domestic abusers from the homes of victims or others at risk.

The Scottish Government is introducing a Bill to Parliament which will create new protective orders to keep a suspected perpetrator away from the household of someone at risk of abuse.

In contrast with existing civil measures such as Non-Harassment Orders and Exclusion Orders, protective orders would not require the person at risk to make the application to the court themselves.

Police would be able to impose a short-term order and to apply to a court to put in place a longer-term order.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland already had what campaigners described as ‘gold standard’ domestic abuse laws, but with many tens of thousands of people reporting domestic abuse each year, further measures were required– and that included taking action to reduce the threat of homelessness from those who seek safety for themselves and often their children.

“We need to change the reality that for many women and their children the only way to escape an abuser is to flee their home,” she said.

“It should not be the victims of abuse who lose their homes, it should be the perpetrators.

“So we will introduce a Bill to give police and courts new powers to remove suspected perpetrators from the homes of those at risk.

“Such orders would allow our justice system to safeguard people who, for example, are being controlled to such an extent that they could not initiate court action themselves, and give victims time to seek advice on longer-term housing options.”

Domestic abuse is the leading cause of women’s homelessness in Scotland.

Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “Without this legislation, women experiencing domestic abuse will continue to have to choose between staying in the home with an abuser or making themselves and their children homeless to get away from the abuse.

“As survivors have asked for years, why should those being abused, rather than the perpetrator, have to leave their homes, pets, and belongings?

“We look forward to engaging with the Scottish Government on the detail of the legislation going forward.”