Domestic abuse will be prosecuted ‘firmly’ during lockdown

The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, told victims public safety remains a priority at this time.

Domestic abuse cases will be prosecuted firmly and fairly during the coronavirus pandemic, Scotland’s senior law officer has said.

The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, told victims he knows they may be more at risk during the lockdown but said public safety remains a priority for law enforcement during this period.

Mr Wolffe’s assurances come a year after the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 came into effect, criminalising coercive and controlling behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner.

He said: “Our commitment to tackling domestic abuse remains firm, especially during this unprecedented time.

“With the public following government advice to stay at home in order to restrict the spread of coronavirus, we know that those experiencing domestic abuse may be more at risk.

“I want to reassure victims that public safety remains the priority for law enforcement during this period. It is vital that victims have the confidence in the justice system to come forward and report these crimes and also that they seek support from the many organisations which continue to provide essential services to victims.

“Prosecutors will continue to use all the tools at their disposal to prosecute domestic abuse, including the ground-breaking legislation which was introduced last year.

“I would strongly encourage anyone who has been a victim of such offending to report this to the police and to seek support.”

The guarantee comes days after it was revealed Police Scotland are taking “proactive” steps to deal with domestic abuse amid the Covid-19 lockdown.

Officers are engaging with ministers, charities and voluntary organisations to monitor the impact moves taken to prevent the spread of the virus could have on families.

The force said it is “too early” to assess how self-isolation, quarantine and social distancing could affect such incidents but charities supporting women have expressed concerns.