Police officers will be able to remove suspected abusers from victims’ homes under new laws being tabled by the Scottish Government.
The Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Bill, if passed by the Scottish Parliament, will also give police and courts the power to ban the suspected abusers from re-entering victims’ homes for two months.
It will also allow landlords to end or transfer the tenancy of anyone who has been abusive to their partner to prevent a victim from becoming homeless.
The proposed legislation was published on Monday.
Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of protecting women and girls who find themselves isolated and vulnerable due to the actions of an abusive partner.
“This new Bill will apply to all those at risk of domestic abuse, but we know women are disproportionally affected, representing 80% of victims.
“A person’s home should be a place of safety and the new orders being introduced will give victims of domestic abuse space and time to address their longer term safety and housing situation.”
The Bill builds on legislation that came into force last year, giving police and prosecutors greater powers to target those who engage in coercive or controlling behaviour.
Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “The publication of this Bill is a milestone moment for women, children and young people experiencing domestic abuse who for years have asked us why it should be them, rather than their abusers, who have to leave their homes, pets and belongings to seek safety.
“Domestic abuse is the leading cause of women’s homelessness in Scotland, with women often facing the impossible choice between living with an abuser and making themselves and their children homeless.”
Scottish Women’s Aid believes emergency protective orders will make an “immediate and significant difference” by offering victims respite and breathing space as they seek support and safety.
Dr Scott added: “The role of social landlords is also key in this, and so new powers to allow them to help survivors of domestic abuse to remain in the family home are welcome news.
“We look forward to continued engagement with colleagues from all parties to strengthen the legislation even further as it makes its way through parliament.”