Kenny MacAskill supports abuse law in Scotland

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. Picture: Julie Bull
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. Picture: Julie Bull
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MINISTERS have indicated that they will introduce a Scottish version of a law which allows women to find out if a new partner has a history of domestic violence.

A pilot scheme of Domestic Abuse Protection Orders – known as Clare’s Law, after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her partner George Appleton – in four forces in England and Wales is to end this month. Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has told senior police officers that he will back its adoption in Scotland if the outcome is positive.

The Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (ASPS) has been campaigning for the protection orders to be deployed north of the Border to combat a dramatic rise in domestic abuse over the past decade.

The orders require men with a history of violence in the home to disclose previous convictions and officers also want a secondary provision in which they are able to share information about known abusers with potential victims, even though this may breach data protection laws.

In a letter to ASPS, ­MacAskill said he was watching the pilots in Gwent, Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire and Greater Manchester.

“I welcome strongly your commitment and that of your colleagues to tackling domestic abuse,” the justice secretary said. “These types of crimes are completely unacceptable in any civilised society and the effects are devastating not only for the victim but for their families too.

“The Scottish Government takes the issue of domestic abuse and all forms of violence very seriously indeed and is committed to tacking this abhorrent behaviour, which casts such a pall over the lives of individuals and communities.

“I share your view that the responsibility for change lies squarely with the perpetrator and never with the victim.”

Meanwhile, the disgraced MSP Bill Walker, who was convicted of domestic abuse offences against his ex-wives, faces having his Holyrood ­wages curtailed by the Scottish Parliament.

His colleagues will consider whether they can impose the sanction on Walker when they return to parliament this week, a Holyrood spokesman said.

Walker, 71, of Alloa, Clackmannanshire, has refused to quit his seat, despite the outrage over his conviction of 23 assault charges against his three ex-wives and a step-daughter. He will be sentenced this month.

Yesterday, it emerged that Holyrood presiding officer, ­Tricia Marwick, has instructed officials to look at the Scotland Act and advise the parliament’s corporate body on members’ pay and conditions.

“Officials are looking at the issue of the extent to which a member who is a serving a custodial jail sentence should continue to be paid,” a parliament spokesman said.

It will be considered by the parliament’s corporate body on Thursday. The Scotland Act gives parliament the power to set out pay provision, meaning changes could be made without referring to Westminster.

Police Scotland has made tackling domestic abuse a priority, setting up a specialist task force up of 25 officers. However, recent figures revealed thousands of convicted abusers are going unpunished each year, with just one in ten jailed and a third receiving nothing more than a warning.

Chief Superintendent David O’Connor, president of Asps, said: “Domestic abuse in all its forms is unacceptable and we must find new ways of removing this from society. The onus should be placed on people with a history of ­domestic abuse related convictions to be up front with ­potential new partners.”