Child Protection Guidance 2021

Part 4: Specific support needs and concerns 146 National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 Version 1.0 September 2021 Domestic abuse 4.93 This section has a focus on child protection response. Further detail is provided in appended links to practice insights. 4.94 Definition. Domestic abuse is any form of physical, verbal, sexual, psychological or financial abuse which might amount to criminal conduct and which takes place within the context of a relationship. The relationship may be between partners (married, cohabiting, in a civil partnership or otherwise), or ex-partners. The abuse may be committed in the home or elsewhere, including online. Domestic abuse includes degrading, threatening and humiliating behaviour predominantly by men and predominantly towards women. It is a gendered crime and is underpinned by attitudes and inequalities between men and women that continue to be prevalent in society. It may be committed in the home or elsewhere; and may include online activity. There is significant evidence of links between domestic abuse and emotional, physical and sexual abuse of children, and children themselves can experience domestic abuse as ‘coercive control’ of the whole family environment, not just of their mother. 4.95 Prevalence. There were 60,641 domestic abuse incidents known to Police Scotland in 2018-19. This was a 2% rise from 2017-18. In 2018-19, 2,673 children were referred to the Reporter under section 67(1)(f) of the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011, due to a “close connection with a person who has carried out domestic abuse” (SCRA 2019). This does not include children referred on other grounds who may also have experienced domestic abuse. For the estimated 2,668 children on the child protection register at 31 July 2018, there were 6,830 concerns relating to domestic abuse at the case conferences at which they were registered. 4.96 Violence against women and girls refers to a range of actions that harm, or cause suffering and indignity to, women and children. These include but are not limited to physical, sexual and psychological violence in the family, general community or in institutions. This includes domestic abuse, rape, incest and child sexual abuse; sexual harassment and intimidation at work, online, at home or in public; commercial sexual exploitation including prostitution, pornography and trafficking; and so called ‘honour- based’ violence, including dowry-related violence, female genital mutilation, forced and child marriages, and ‘honour’ crimes. The Scottish Government’s definition of violence against women and girls is based on the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Equally Safe: national strategy). Article 19 of the UNCRC requires public authorities to take all appropriate measures in relation to protection of children from all forms physical and mental violence, injury or abuse etc. 4.97 Offence. The criminal offence of Domestic Abuse is detailed in sections 1 and 2 of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018. Offences cover behaviour likely to cause a partner or ex-partner to suffer physical or psychological harm (including fear, alarm and distress). This can range from behaviour that is violent, threatening or intimidating or has effects such as dependency, isolation from friends or family, controlling, depriving or restricting freedom of action or which is frightening, humiliating, degrading or punishing. 4.98 Statutory aggravation of the offence in relation to a child is provided for at section 5 of the 2018 Act. This includes where a child sees, hears, or is present during or is likely to be adversely affected by the offence of domestic abuse. There does not have to be evidence that the child is aware, understands or has been adversely affected by the domestic abuse and a single source of evidence is sufficient for the offence to be aggravated.