Smacking ban will be costly for Scottish police

Senior officers at Police Scotland say the country’s impending 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.

The Scottish parliament voted to criminalise parents who gently smack their children in October last year. The new rules are set to come into force on 7 November.


The law currently allows a parent to ‘reasonably chastise’ their child. A parent may give their child a mild smack but nothing that would leave more than a transient reddening of the skin.

Police Scotland has yet to give a figure for how much it will cost to investigate and charge parents, but has told the Government there will be a “significant impact” from “the costs associated with implementation in terms of training, IT charges etc”.

The force’s Head of Public Protection, Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal, confirmed that officers would have the option to refer newly criminalised cases to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for prosecution.

He said: “We are considering what additional awareness is needed by our 17,000 officers, particularly front-line officers, to assess disposal options. This work will include a full assessment of the likely cost.”

‘Responsible and loving parents’

Liam Kerr, the Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, said: “These costs simply underline the difficulties faced by Police Scotland in implementing the unworkable smacking ban.”

He added: “The majority of Scots would expect the police to catch criminals and keep people safe, not track down responsible and loving parents.”

In February last year, when giving evidence to the Scottish Government, Police Scotland warned that a smacking ban will mean increased costs for the force as officers spend more time investigating parents.

Police chiefs also raised concerns that the ban could be considered state interference in family life, where parents are criminalised for behaviour that has been accepted for “generations”.