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The 2018 act makes it mandatory for the court to consider in every case whether to impose a non-harassment order to protect the victim. The act also provides that, where an NHO is not made, the court is required to explain the basis for that decision. There is a statutory reporting requirement under the 2018 act, according to which the Scottish ministers shall publish a report on the operation of the act three years after commencement. That will include information on the number of non-harassment orders that have been made by courts in domestic abuse cases.
I thank the cabinet secretary for his answer and the reinforcement of the requirements of the 2018 act. I have heard reports that there might well be reluctance in the courts to issue NHOs, so can the justice secretary please consider some way of monitoring that before the end of the three-year statutory period?
Yes—I can give that reassurance to Linda Fabiani. I should mention on the record her absolute determination, when the
Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill was going through Parliament, to protect victims of domestic abuse through the work that she did to get the 2018 act into place.
I will examine the figures for the period of time that the act has been in operation, which is since April this year. If there are discrepancies or issues that give me cause for concern, I will raise them with the judiciary. Linda Fabiani will understand that the matter is independent of the Government and is for the independent judiciary to decide on, although I will happily look at the figures since the act came into operation. I will be happy to keep Linda Fabiani updated, if I have particular concerns.