Scots Govt will enforce smacking ban despite police resource concerns

The Scottish Government will continue with plans to make parental smacking a criminal offence this year despite concerns over the implementation of the new law.

A letter to Be Reasonable Scotland from Children’s Minister Maree Todd confirmed that legislation to ban smacking will come into force on 7 November.

Under the smacking ban, parents or carers who use reasonable chastisement with their children will be committing a criminal offence and could face prosecution.

Major change

Earlier this month Be Reasonable wrote to Todd saying that, setting aside whether people support or oppose the ban, it is clear that appropriate time and resources are needed to implement the law.

Simon Calvert, spokesman for Be Reasonable, said: “This is to ensure adequate awareness raising is carried out and that public bodies can make the necessary changes for the implementation of such a major social change”.

Mr Calvert also noted Police Scotland’s concerns that a smacking ban would likely have a “significant impact” on the force.


In her reply to Be Reasonable, Maree Todd dismissed the concerns saying that in her view “the Act should still come into force on 7 November 2020”.

Commenting on the announcement, Simon Calvert said: “We’re disappointed that the Government intends to forge ahead with a smacking ban despite the serious concerns we have outlined.

“There’s just over six months until the new law comes into force and it’s hard to see how all parents in Scotland will be made aware of the change in that narrow timeframe.

“It’s even harder to see how Police Scotland, which already faces serious challenges in terms of resources, will be prepared to implement the legislation by then.”

Significant impact

Senior officers at Police Scotland have previously warned that the smacking ban will have a “significant impact” on its finances.

They estimate the new law will require almost all of its officers to be retrained and for IT systems to be upgraded.

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