"We need to change the reality that for many women and their children the only way to escape an abuser is to flee their home. It should not be the victims of abuse who lose their homes, it should be the perpetrators."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, 15 October 2019

The Scottish Government has announced its intention to introduce new legislation to improve the safety of those at risk from domestic abuse and to reduce the risk of homeless as a result of gender based violence.

Protective orders

Protective orders will be introduced by the new legislation, which the Scottish Government anticipates will be put in place before the next Holyrood elections in 2021.

Under the proposals protective orders will be used to safeguard potential domestic abuse victims by preventing suspected perpetrators from nearing the household.

The proposed orders reflect a policy position of ensuring that, in tackling domestic abuse, action is taken against the perpetrator rather than the victim.

Protective Orders will operate in a way that provides security to potential victims by allowing them to stay in their homes, rather than being forced to flee their home and be placed in temporary accommodation. Recent reports suggest that domestic abuse is a significant cause of homelessness in Scotland.

Action by police

Another feature of the proposed orders is that they will be made directly by Police Scotland, rather than by the victim themselves. It is anticipated that an order may be put into place by the police at short notice to ensure the safety of potential victims. Should the order require to be extended, it is anticipated that this would require to be granted by the Court.

Scottish Women's Aid has welcomed the proposed legislation, noting that it will result in "an immediate and significant improvement, offering children and women a breathing space as they seek safety".

Reducing homelessness from domestic abuse

The new legislation follows the coming into effect of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 earlier this year, together with the guidance produced by COSLA , Chartered Institute of Housing and others to tackle domestic abuse in social housing.


Fiona McLeod

Legal Director