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Legal insights & industry updates

| 5 minutes read

Consultation on a 'Domestic Abuse Register' to take place in Scotland

The most recent Police Scotland statistics on domestic abuse show there were 65,251 incidents recorded in 2021. This is the highest number of recorded domestic abuse incidents year-on-year in Scotland. What is concerning, unfortunately, is that this is likely to be a small proportion of the true number of incidents which take place each year.

Pam Gosal, Scottish Conservative MSP for West Scotland, has presented a proposed Domestic Abuse (Prevention) (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament. The draft proposal makes various provisions for the prevention of domestic abuse and to improve support for those affected by such offences.

Some of the proposed measures in the bill include:

  • The introduction of a Domestic Abuse Register, which shall operate similarly to the Sex Offenders Register whereby individuals convicted of domestic abuse offences may be added to the register
  • The introduction of mandatory rehabilitation measures for offenders
  • Placing an obligation for annual reporting on access to domestic abuse services for persons from underrepresented communities
  • Mandatory school education for children in relation to domestic abuse

The proposed Domestic Abuse Register will require a person placed on it to undertake the following:

  • Notify the police of their full name, address, date of birth, passport details, credit card and bank account details, and National Insurance number.
  • Notify the Police within three days if any of these details change. All details must be re-confirmed with the Police at least annually.
  • Notify the Police within three days if they spend seven days or more at an address not already declared to the Police.
  • Notify the Police of any intended foreign travel at least seven days before departure.

The aim of the proposed bill is to prevent and reduce the extent of domestic abuse incidents in Scotland, protecting victims in the process. It is understood that half of all domestic abuse is committed by repeat offenders. The introduction of the register is hoped to act as a deterrent and assist authorities in protecting victims.

What can I do now to ascertain whether someone may have been convicted of a domestic abuse offence?

In Scotland, there is an existing database that can be used to find out if someone may have a violent or abusive offending history. This is known as the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland. Access to this scheme involves completing a Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse application to Police Scotland as part of a multi-agency approach. Details about this can be found at:

The consultation paper argues that this scheme does not go far enough to protect victims. Access to this scheme requires a Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse application to Police Scotland and a multi-agency approach.

What steps can be taken now to protect victims of Domestic Abuse?

From a family law perspective in the Civil Courts in Scotland, there are various legal remedies which can be used by victims of domestic abuse to take steps to protect themselves.

If the police have insufficient evidence to charge an alleged abuser with a criminal offence, this does not prevent victims from seeking protection through the civil courts. With assistance from a Family Law Solicitor, the law in Scotland provides victims with a number of remedies by way of court orders in order to protect them or their children from the future risk of abuse. It is possible to seek the following protective remedies through the Civil Courts with the assistance of a solicitor:

  • Exclusion Orders – An Exclusion Order, once granted, suspends the occupancy rights of the abuser and thereafter prevents them from returning to live in the family home. Spouses and Civil Partners automatically have occupancy rights regardless of whether they are the legal owners. An Exclusion Order, to be effective, must be combined with other orders including a Warrant for Summary Ejection and an Interdict preventing the abuser from entering or remaining in the property. It is a draconian remedy since it deprives someone of the right to live in their own property. So, when seeking the order it is important to be as well prepared as possible.
  • Common Law Interdicts – An Interdict is an Order whereby the court stipulates that an individual is to refrain from carrying out a specified action or behaviour. For example, a victim of domestic abuse could ask the Court to interdict their partner from approaching them or coming within a certain distance of the family home.
  • Powers of Arrest – A Power of Arrest is an order that is usually sought together with Interdicts and Exclusion Orders. The benefit of obtaining a Power of Arrest is that it will result in the police being automatically able to arrest an individual if they have breached the terms of the protective remedy which has been granted.
  • Matrimonial Interdicts – A Matrimonial Interdict is an Interdict that restrains or prohibits any conduct of one spouse towards the other spouse or child of the family. This may include prohibiting a spouse from entering a family home or any other residence of the victim, the victim’s workplace or any school the child may attend.
  • Domestic Abuse Interdicts – A Domestic Abuse Interdict can be granted to anyone cohabiting or in an intimate personal relationship with an abuser.  Breaching this Order is a criminal offence.
  • Non-Harassment Orders – A Non-Harassment Order is designed to protect a victim from a course of conduct which amounts to harassment and causes the victim alarm and distress. Examples of such conduct may include frequent phone calls or repeated text or social media messages. A breach of a Non-Harassment Order is a criminal offence and can result in a monetary fine or imprisonment. As part of a criminal prosecution against an offender, a Court can also impose a Non Harassment Order upon convicting the offender.

In earlier articles, my colleague Jenny Smith and I discussed in more detail the various legal remedies that can be used to protect yourself against domestic abuse.

Legal Advice

Sadly domestic abuse is common and often escalates over time. It is essential that victims have access to support and legal advice at an early stage to prevent further incidents of abuse from occurring. Speaking to an experienced family law solicitor can ensure that swift action is taken to put protective remedies in place.


It also can be extremely difficult for victims to speak out about domestic abuse. There are various charities and organisations that can provide help to individuals:

For Men:

  1. Scotland’s Domestic Abuse & Forced Marriage Helpline – 24-hour service – 0800 027 1234
  2. Abused Men in Scotland – 08088 000 024
  3. Victim Support Scotland – 0800 160 1985
  4. Rape Crisis Scotland – 0808 8010 302

For Women:

  1. Scotland’s Domestic Abuse & Forced Marriage Helpline – 24-hour service – 0800 027 1234
  2. Scottish Women’s Aid – 0131 226 6606
  3. Rape Crisis Scotland – 0808 8010 302
  4. Scottish Women’s Rights Centre – 0808 8010 789
A new register for domestic abuse offenders is one of the ideas for new Holyrood legislation in Scotland


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