Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016

– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd January 2020.

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Photo of James Dornan James Dornan Scottish National Party

3. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the implementation of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016. (S5O-04045)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

All the provisions in the act have been implemented except the parts that provide for the creation of sexual harm prevention orders and sexual risk orders. Until the United Kingdom Government amends the necessary reserved primary legislation, those orders will not be enforceable across the rest of the UK, and it would therefore be inappropriate and irresponsible to enact them.

My predecessor and I have raised the matter with UK ministers on a number of occasions but, to date, the UK Government has not identified a suitable legislative vehicle through which to make the necessary changes. We will commence the orders as soon as the UK Government passes the appropriate legislation. Until that time, the existing preventative orders for sexual offending in Scotland and the multi-agency public protection arrangements provide the most robust and enforceable regime for keeping the public safe.

Photo of James Dornan James Dornan Scottish National Party

Citizens Advice Scotland has reported a 50 per cent increase in traffic to its web pages that offer advice for people who have been affected by the sharing of intimate images or videos without their consent. The news that the cabinet secretary has just given us on the failure of the UK Government to make the necessary changes is disappointing. What impact will the delay have on the victims in question?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

The figure that James Dornan cited is very stark.

The UK Government has indicated that it understands our intent and thinks that there is some wisdom in our doing what we are doing, but it has made no commitments on when it will make the necessary changes to the reserved legislation. Despite the fact that I and my predecessor have asked for that, there is no timescale in place.

As I said, there are orders that we can use at the moment to keep people safe, but we want to have a stronger regime. We believe that that could be possible if we had the orders that require legislative change by the UK Government. In the meantime, we will continue to press the UK Government to pass the necessary primary legislation as soon as possible.