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Last Updated: Monday, 24 November, 2003, 17:16 GMT
New guidance in abuse cases
Coat of Arms
New guidance is to be issued to Scotland's prosecutors which aims to increase the level of communication with the victims of domestic abuse.

The move was announced by the Solicitor General, Elish Angiolini QC, at the annual conference of Scottish Women's Aid in Edinburgh.

The revised guidance will be sent to procurators fiscal from next month.

Its introduction follows a review of the way the way such cases were dealt with by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).

Ms Angiolini said: "Domestic abuse is very complex and prosecutors must have a sophisticated understanding of the issues involved if we are to prosecute such crimes as effectively as possible.

"That is why I am very pleased that Scottish Women's Aid were happy to lend their expertise in the development of our new guidance.

"In particular, it will help us better understand the needs of victims and to help them find the support and advice which they need."

Sexual offending is a complex area and requires a sophisticated set of skills from the prosecutor
Elish Angiolini QC
Rowena Steele, national co-ordinator for Scottish Women's Aid, welcomed the guidance as "an important step" to help reassure victims that their cases will be dealt with seriously.

"We welcome this step and hope that it will lead to a greater understanding by everyone involved in the criminal justice system of the effect domestic abuse can have on the women, children and young people who experience it," she said.

Ms Angiolini also announced that the COPFS would carry out a full review and evaluation of the prosecution of rape and sexual offences.

"This is an important exercise which will help us understand how we are doing," she said.

"Like crimes involving domestic abuse, sexual offending is a complex area and requires a sophisticated set of skills from the prosecutor.

Queen's Speech

"This exercise will allow us to take a close look at how we prosecute these cases at the moment and, with the support from experts in this area, to consider how we can do it better."

Meanwhile, the Scottish Executive has confirmed that it is considering plans to set up a register of wife-beaters.

A similar move for England and Wales is expected to be announced in the Queen's Speech.

An executive spokesman said ministers could look at ways of implementing the measure in Scotland.




SEE ALSO:
Aguilera backs abuse campaign
29 Oct 03  |  Scotland
Refuge boost for abuse victims
01 Oct 03  |  Scotland
NHS gets domestic abuse role
10 Mar 03  |  Scotland
Abuse campaign to be widened
19 Feb 03  |  Scotland


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