Charges brought under new Domestic Abuse legislation
Two people have been charged following new domestic abuse legislation which was introduced last month.
Prosecutions are being made possible under the terms of the new Domestic Abuse Scotland Act.
Members of Lerwick Community Council have been told that the new legislation provides useful background to police and gives more power to the courts.
The new legislation includes coercive control under its terms and has already been highlighted by chief executive of Scotland’s Women’s Aid, Marsha Scott, who is visiting the isles this week.
Police Constable Brian Mulholland was addressing members at their monthly meeting in the town hall.
“We’ve had two charges of the new Domestic Abuse Scotland Act which came into force last month,” he said.
“Glasgow has just got a conviction for it, so we are now charging people with that new offence.”
Questioned further by community councillor Karen Fraser, he said the legislation created an offence of controlling behaviour.
“But far more handily for us it creates an offence for a course of behaviour. Previously, where we would have one person in a relationship breaching the peace, if they did it on two occasions it would get reported as two separate charges.
“But now it would get rolled into one because it shows a broader picture. We know these incidents aren’t isolated within a relationship.
“It gives the courts a bit more power as well. It lets them know the full circumstances of the relationship. It’s very good legislation.”
Questions were also raised over the recent spate of vandalisms within Lerwick, which – as previously reported by The Shetland Times – have seen a spike since the beginning of April.
Mr Mulholland said it was difficult to see any patterns in the offending.
“I’ve seen the map and unfortunately it just looks like someone’s thrown darts at it,” he said.
He said the “main constant” was that offences took place in the later evening, typically when pubs and clubs were closing for the night.
“It would tend to be people leaving licensed premises and heading home with a bit too much in them,” he said.
He said officers had been focusing on “high visibility licensed premises checks” to try to keep offending down.
One thing which may help is a fully operational CCTV system. But Lerwick’s cameras have not been working fully for a while.
Questioned by community councillor Damien Ristori, Mr Mulholland said he would raise the matter with the Chief Inspector.
“I’m aware it is an issue,” he said. “We more than anyone would appreciate it if it was up and running 100 per cent again.”
Figures for May show 175 offences reported overall, with six related to crimes of dishonesty.
There have been seven assaults, one reported incident of robbery, four vandalisms and three “intelligence-led” drug searches which all proved to be positive.