Concern over new abuse bill

Selkirkshire councillor Michelle Ballantyne.
Selkirkshire councillor Michelle Ballantyne.

South Scotland Conservative list MSP Michelle Ballantyne, also a councillor for Selkirkshire, believes that a bill to criminalise psychological domestic abuse should be taken forward wholeheartedly.

In its first hurdle at Holyrood, the domestic abuse (Scotland) bill was debated last Thursday, with MSPs unanimously supporting its general principles.

Mrs Ballantyne told MSPs during the Holyrood debate that the bill does bridge gaps in current law relating to the prosecution of psychological abuse and controlling behaviour.

However, she added: “As my Conservative colleagues have highlighted, we have some significant reservations about the drafting of the bill.

“We are highlighting those reservations not because we do not want the bill to proceed through its stages, or to be passed, but because we think that it is vital to ensure that anything that we put into statute is enforceable.”

She added: “One of the things that we should look at is the provision of early intervention and prevention services for young people displaying any signs of problematic behaviour.”

She also raised concerns over wording within the bill which could lower the threshold of criminality through ambiguity and called for MSPs to ensure that it gives full protection to victims.

The bill will create a specific offence of abusive behaviour in relation to a partner or ex-partner including psychological abuse, covering controlling behaviour.