New laws to ban domestic abusers from victims’ homes

7 October, 2020

The Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Bill was published this week, proposing further protection for people affected by domestic abuse by focusing on tenancy rights.

The Bill, if passed by Parliament, will give police and courts powers to remove suspected abusers from victims’ homes and ban them from re‑entering for two months.

Building on laws introduced last year outlawing controlling and coercive behaviour, the new legislation will also allow social landlords to end or transfer a tenancy of a domestic abuse perpetrator to the victim.

Domestic abuse is the main cause of women’s homelessness in Scotland, as reported by Scottish Women’s Aid. This legislation will help prevent victims from becoming homeless and enable them to remain in the family home.

Due to the controlling nature of domestic abuse, homes are often held in the perpetrator’s name. Currently, victims of domestic abuse have to leave their homes, often leaving pets and belongings behind, in order to find safety. Often families have to live in temporary accommodation, change schools, find new work, and more, all of which can stop them from moving forward and getting their lives back.

This Bill has the power to make a real difference to adults and children who are victims of domestic abuse by allowing them to stay in their homes and communities.

Abusers would also be prevented from contacting or approaching domestic abuse survivors and their children. Two months in their own home, without contact from their abuser, can give people enough time to find the space and support they need to escape abuse permanently.

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. We have long said that Emergency Protective Orders will make an immediate and significant difference for those women and children, offering them respite and breathing space as they seek support and safety. 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.”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

“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.”

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