This statement refers to the debate in support of the Women’s Aid Child First Safe Child Contact Saves Lives campaign which aims to stop avoidable child deaths. The SNP participated in this important debate to speak up for children whose safety, wellbeing and lives are being put at risk by unsafe and poorly assess contact with parents who are known perpetrators of domestic abuse.
Responsibility for the criminal justice system in Scotland rests with the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government is committed to action which will improve the justice system response to domestic abuse. As part of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a new Domestic Abuse Bill. This will place Scotland at the forefront of nations in tackling the true nature of domestic abuse.
Section 24 of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 refers to orders made under section 11 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, and rightly puts child welfare and children’s interests as a priority. The law states clearly that when a court is considering the welfare of a child in relation to parental rights and responsibilities, it must take into account the need to protect the child from any abuse, or risk of abuse, that affects, or might affect, the child. When a parent raises an action for contact or residence for their child, the court is also under a statutory duty to give the child the opportunity to express his or her views.