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Ending corroboration could protect victims of domestic abuse

Removing the requirement for corroboration in Scots law could help to protect the rights of victims of domestic abuse, the Solicitor General has said.

The Crown Office defines domestic abuse as ‘any form of physical, sexual or mental and emotional abuse which might amount to criminal conduct and which takes place within the context of a relationship. The relationship will be between partners (married, cohabiting, civil partnership or otherwise) or ex-partners. The abuse can be committed in the home or elsewhere’.

Speaking at the Domestic Abuse in Scotland conference, Lesley Thomson QC said prosecutors have a robust prosecution policy – but corroboration often proves a real obstacle in bringing domestic abuse cases to court.

The Solicitor General said:

“A woman may have been assaulted approximately 30 times before she contacts the police – we recognise that there are huge barriers to women seeking assistance in such cases.

“We know that the pattern of violence used in this insidious type of abuse is controlled and controlling and the abuser will often wait until he is alone with his victim, or perhaps when the only witnesses are her young children.

“It cannot be acceptable in a modern legal system that in order to bring criminal proceedings in cases which typically occur in private we are left in the hands of fortune as to whether or not there happens to be corroboration.”

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