Responding to Gender-based Violence in Scotland: The Scope of the Gender Equality Duty to Drive Cultural and Practical Change

Published: February 2011

This piece of research, undertaken for the Equality and Human Rights Commission by the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research explores some of the arguments for and against a gender aggravation in Scots criminal law before considering the evidence thus far of the impact the Gender Equality Duty (GED) has had on Scotland’s criminal justice system, and makes a number of useful recommendations for the future.

This research has its roots in well-established policy debates in Scotland. Following the passage of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003, which introduced a new statutory aggravation for crimes motivated by religious prejudice, the then Scottish Executive convened a working group to explore and make recommendations on whether there was a case for similar provision for other social groups. The report andrecommendations of the Hate Crime Working Group, published in 2004, recognised that the debate to introduce gender aggravation was one of the most contested issues which it had looked at, but it did not believe that at that stage it could recommend introducing such a provision.

These debates re-emerged with Patrick Harvie’s member’s bill which was to become the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009. The Equality and Human Rights Commission, along with many organisations in the women’s sector in Scotland, stated in its evidence on the bill that it did not believe that a statutory gender aggravation would be an effective additional criminal justice response to identifying and tackling crime motivated by gender prejudice. This of course begs the question about what is required to better address these types of crime. This piece of research aims to be a useful contribution to this debate.

Authors / Editors

Jenny Johnstone

University of Newcastle Upon Tyne

Prof Michele Burman

University of Glasgow

Research Themes

Gender, Crime and Criminal Justice