Scottish Women’s Aid chief calls for judges to undergo domestic abuse training

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Scottish Women's Aid would like sheriffs to undergo training to aid the sentencing of domestic abusers,

The chief executive of a women’s refuge charity has called for judges to undergo training to improve the consistency of sentencing in domestic abuse cases.

Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, believes sheriffs could benefit from assistance when deciding a sufficient punishment for a convicted abuser.

Ms Scott said just one percent of abusers in Scotland are imprisoned for longer than a year.

Her warnings come two weeks after a Dundee man dodged jail despite admitting assaulting a young woman on various occasions.

Ryan Devaney, 28, escaped jail and was ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.

His victim was “battered” and left requiring surgery to repair damage inflicted to her nose, according to her mother.

The mother of Devaney’s victim described the 28-year-old as “evil” and said he had become increasingly “arrogant” after avoiding a custodial sentence.

Another Tayside man, Jamie Doak, was handed a 240 hour sentence despite being found guilty of terrorising three former partners over a period of almost 13 years.

Earlier this week, a jury found Doak guilty of four charges of assaulting and injuring all three women.

The incidents took place at addresses across Perth and Kinross.

Calling for a more consistent approach to sentences for abusers, Ms Scott said very few abusers are given lengthy custodial sentences.

She revealed: “In terms of sentencing, we have concerns about the use of community sentences in terms of convictions in domestic cases.

“Sentencing in Scotland is inconsistent. The use of custody is quite unusual in Scotland.

“One percent of convicted perpetrators are given a custodial sentence of more than a year.

“We also think there needs to be a link in training for sheriffs in criminal justice systems.

“If they don’t take domestic abuse seriously then it doesn’t matter how seriously we take it.”

Ms Scott said the charity would welcome further government consideration on how to approach domestic abuse.

She said: “At the end of the day, women just want to be safe, they want themselves and their children to be safe. We look forward to having a new domestic abuse bill.”