Highland MSP on a mission to secure travelling domestic abuse court

Kate Forbes - SNP - Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch May 2016. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

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MSP Kate Forbes is campaigning to get a travelling domestic abuse court for the Highlands and Islands.
The Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP brought the matter up during the Justice Portfolio Questions in the Scottish Parliament chamber last week (January 11).
Miss Forbes also suggested a need for dedicated procurator fiscals and sheriffs for such courts to ensure these sensitive cases can be fully understood and dealt with appropriately.
The MSP first brought forward the idea of travelling courts last year after a visit to a Women’s Aid group in her constituency.
She said: ‘I’ve spent a considerable time speaking to Lochaber Women’s Aid where I heard first hand from women that have been subjected to domestic abuse and been involved in legal proceedings.
‘I am convinced we can improve the legal process for these women and therefore boost confidence levels in the system to ensure all crimes of domestic abuse are reported. In rural areas, there are added complications of travelling to the court and in some cases, the perpetrator and victim could be travelling on the same bus.’
She added: ‘Also, because of the low numbers of cases reported, I think sheriffs and procurator fiscals need more support to have appropriate training and sensitivity to the cases.’
Miss Forbes described the success of domestic abuse courts introduced to the central belt but explained a travelling court would be more beneficial for the Highlands because parts of the area are remote, meaning travelling to a court in Inverness could take just as long as to the central belt for some Highland women.
She said: ‘When I first suggested the idea in a speech on domestic abuse courts in September, the Scottish Government promised to consider the proposal. This demonstrates to me how serious they are about tackling the abomination of domestic abuse.’