A former senior police officer has been deeply critical of the Scottish Government’s smacking ban, saying it will not stop actual child abuse and will instead put more pressure on the police.
Tom Wood, formerly a Deputy Chief Constable for Lothian and Borders Police and chairman of two child protection committees, said the new law was unnecessary, as minors were already protected from genuine assault and violence.
The Scottish Government’s controversial ban came into force last month, meaning parents who lightly smack their children in Scotland will now be committing a criminal offence.
Writing in The Scotsman, Wood asked: “How many times has the defence of reasonable chastisement actually been used – very few, I suspect. So is there a problem to solve in the first place?”
Wood also believes the ban is unworkable, saying: “In my long police service, I never found there was a lack of law when dealing with abused children; I often found there was a lack of evidence”.
“I suspect our new anti-smacking legislation will be little used. Assaults on children rarely happen in public and, by definition, the victims are rarely in a position to report them when they do.”
He continued: “But it is in the nature of things that one or two will fall foul. Inevitably some beleaguered mum struggling to cope with a tantrum in a supermarket aisle will come under the baleful eye of one of the unco guid” (do-gooders).
“Another problem for our overstretched police and criminal justice system!”
Inevitably some beleaguered mum struggling to cope with a tantrum in a supermarket aisle will come under the baleful eye of one of the unco guid
He concluded: “Our neglected and marginalised children, though in the tiny minority, desperately need our help. They and their families need a hand up – with no new legislation required.”