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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005, 08:06 GMT 09:06 UK
Abuse court 'makes a difference'
Domestic violence
The court gives victims of domestic abuse extra support
Hundreds of people have been convicted of domestic abuse during the first year of Scotland's only dedicated court dealing with the crime.

Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm said the court was a reminder that domestic abuse was affecting too many people in Scotland.

The two-year pilot scheme, launched in Glasgow Sheriff Court last October, was designed to speed up cases.

It also offers extra support to victims of such crimes.

Over the past year the court has dealt with 607 cases, with almost three quarters or about 450 resulting in conviction.

I am in no doubt over the difference this pilot is making to those who have experienced domestic abuse
Malcolm Chisholm
Communities Minister

Court officials said all cases were assigned a date within six weeks of being called to trial.

The vast majority of the accused pleaded guilty before or during trial.

Mr Chisholm welcomed the figures.

"Now halfway through the pilot, I am pleased to note that the court is, as it aimed to do, speeding up the time it takes for cases to come to trial," he said.

"I am in no doubt over the difference this pilot is making to those who have experienced domestic abuse and have taken the traumatic, brave step of seeking justice.

Victim support

"This specialised court reminds us all that domestic abuse is a crime, a crime which affects too many people.

"We know that more women are reporting incidents to the police and perpetrators rightly need to be held to account."

Of the 450 convictions, 121 offenders pleaded guilty when their cases were first called to court, 172 before trial, 124 at trial and 33 were later found guilty.

A special support service called Assist is available to support victims throughout the court procedure.

Before the pilot it was feared that men and women suffering abuse might lose heart in the often long and complicated process of taking a complaint through the courts.

The service has already proved to be a success in England and Wales.

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