Seven in ten Scottish councillors oppose smacking ban

Most councillors in Scotland oppose the Scottish Government’s incoming smacking ban, saying local authorities would not be equipped to deal with the repercussions.

A poll on behalf of campaign group Be Reasonable found that there was support for allowing parents to use mild physical discipline among SNP, Labour and Conservative councillors.

Seven in ten did not think smacking should be a criminal offence, and three quarters said they did not believe their area would have sufficient resources to cope with a ban.

Increased workload

The survey, which polled nearly one in five of all Scottish councillors, found that most believe social workers will be unable to cope with the increased caseloads if parents are reported for smacking their children.

“I don’t think the smacking ban is going to protect the real vulnerable and exposed children.”

Around 70 per cent also said the Scottish Government should provide adequate funding to cover the extra resources the ban would require.

Be Reasonable, which is backed by The Christian Institute, says a ban would require extra training to be provided for teachers and health workers.


Councillors criticised the legislation, with one calling it “heavy handed” and “not proportionate to the issue”.

One commented: “I don’t think the smacking ban is going to protect the real vulnerable and exposed children.”

Another said: “Scottish Government seem to have it hard wired in to their psyche that meddling in family life is desirable and proportionate.

“You would have thought that the lessons from the Supreme Court re Named Persons Scheme had been learnt, clearly not.”


Be Reasonable spokesman Jamie Gillies said: “Like the Scottish public, the majority of councillors responding said reasonable chastisement should be allowed, and felt parents should not be criminalised for smacking their children.”

He added: “Many councillors seem aghast at the prospect of a smacking ban which would tie up social workers, deplete local authority resources and affect services for years to come when there is no reliable evidence to show that mild physical discipline is harmful to children.

“It’s seen as a waste of resources at a time of austerity and hard margins.”


Last year, Holyrood’s consultation on a smacking ban showed that 89 per cent of respondents opposed a ban, while just 11 per cent supported it.

But support for the ban was inflated by campaign groups. When these responses were excluded, only 3 per cent were in favour with 97 per cent opposed.