All High Court judges and sheriffs in Scotland will receive specific training on domestic abuse ahead of the introduction of new legislation which broadens the category of criminal conduct.

Devised by the Judicial Institute for Scotland, the body responsible for educating and training Scotland’s judiciary, the combination of online and face-to-face training will focus on knowledge and understanding of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, which comes into force on 1 April 2019.

The Act creates a new offence criminalising physical and psychological abuse of partners or ex-partners. 

An online resource on the Institute's virtual learning environment, the Judicial Hub, will support judges before and during their first cases.

All judges will also be allocated to one of eight face-to-face domestic abuse courses taking place in the Institute’s purpose-built judicial learning suite during 2019.

These courses will build on the online learning and focus on the practicalities and issues arising for the judiciary, from investigation and prosecution to conviction and sentencing.

A number of external contributors, including representatives from Scottish Women’s Aid and the Caledonian System, will be involved in the face-to-face training to assist judges in understanding how the new offence will be investigated and prosecuted, as well as gaining an insight into the impact of the criminal behaviour on victims and children.

Director of the Judicial Institute, Sheriff Alistair Duff, commented: "This approach allows us to provide all judicial office holders in Scotland with an early opportunity to engage with learning about the new offence.

"This is important given the complexities of the new concepts of coercive control and psychological abuse where there may be no physical violence."