MSPs to debate smacking ban after committee rejects major concerns

Scottish politicians will debate legislation that would criminalise parents who gently smack their children, despite warnings the plan will divert valuable police resources.

On 28 May, MSPs will hold a Stage 1 debate on John Finnie’s Bill, after the legislation was approved by the Equalities and Human Rights Committee.

Two committee members robustly challenged the decision and cautioned that the legislation will “divert the focus of police and prosecutors onto good and loving parents”.

‘Virtue signalling’

Conservative MSPs Oliver Mundell and Annie Wells said, “behind all the virtue signalling, this Bill in reality does precious little to deliver on the promise of making our young people safer”.

They also said: “We believe that parents are best able to decide what is in the interests of their children”.

However, the rest of the committee – led by Finnie’s own daughter – backed the legislation.

Campaigners Be Reasonable Scotland urged concerned citizens to tell their MSPs to vote against the Bill.

Children removed

Meanwhile in Wales, police and social workers have raised concerns about the proposed smacking ban there.

A group of leading police officers said children would be taken away from their families during a smacking prosecution.

In a joint submission, the Welsh Chief Officer Group and the All Wales Policing Group warned that the emotional impact of such a move “should not be underestimated”.

And the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) Cymru cautioned that a smacking ban could heap more pressure on an already struggling system.


Dr Ashley Frawley, a sociologist at Swansea University, said the comments will be “terrifying reading for front-line social workers who would be swamped by the demands of a smacking ban”.

She added: “It is baffling that BASW are in favour of a smacking ban given the crisis they are facing at present.”

The Welsh Government plans to remove the parental defence of “reasonable chastisement” from law. This would make smacking a criminal offence.

ComRes polling shows around three-quarters of adults in Scotland and Wales say smacking should not be a criminal offence.