New domestic abuse law training for Scotland’s judiciary

All judges and sheriffs in Scotland will receive specific training on domestic abuse ahead of the introduction of legislation which creates a new offence criminalising physical and psychological abuse of partners or ex-partners.

The Judicial Institute for Scotland, the body responsible for educating and training Scotland’s judiciary, has launched an interactive blended learning package for the entire professional judiciary.    

The online training will focus on knowledge and understanding of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, which comes into force on 1 April 2019.    

Director of the Judicial Institute, Sheriff Alistair Duff, said: “This approach allows us to provide all judicial office holders in Scotland with an early opportunity to engage with learning about the new offence. 

“This is important given the complexities of the new concepts of coercive control and psychological abuse where there may be no physical violence.  

“The resource will live on our award-winning virtual learning environment, the Judicial Hub, and will support judges before and during their first cases.” 

All judges in Scotland will also be allocated to one of eight face-to-face domestic abuse courses taking place in the Institute’s purpose-built judicial learning suite over the course of 2019. 

The face-to-face courses will build on the online learning and focus on the practicalities and issues arising for the judiciary, from investigation and prosecution to conviction and sentencing.  

A number of external contributors, including representatives from Scottish Women’s Aid and the Caledonian System, will be involved in the face-to-face training to assist judges in understanding how the new offence will be investigated and prosecuted, as well as gaining an insight into the impact of the criminal behaviour on victims and children. 

Notes to editors 

For several years, newly appointed sheriffs and summary sheriffs have received training specifically on the issue of domestic abuse as part of their mandatory induction course. 

Specific training on domestic abuse issues has also been incorporated, as appropriate, into other training courses focusing on family cases, vulnerable witnesses, courtroom technology and sentencing. 

The Judicial Institute for Scotland is the body to which the Lord President delegates his responsibilities regarding judicial education.   

In 2015 the Judicial Institute won the ‘Public Body Initiative of the Year’ award in recognition of its work on transgender training and the review of its Equal Treatment Bench Book at the first Scottish LGBTI Awards.  

Later in 2015 the Judicial Hub won the European Crystal Scales of Justice Prize, organised by the Council of Europe. 

The Institute’s purpose built learning suite is in Parliament House, Edinburgh.

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