Smacking ban supporters in Scotland who claim parents will not be criminalised by a proposed new law have been dealt a major blow.

New police evidence has emerged suggesting officers will have to investigate THOUSANDS of allegations in the first five years after legislation is passed.

The shock figures are based on detailed research carried out in Wales, where a similar ban is being considered.

Police Scotland has already warned MSPs a ban here will result in increased costs as officers spend more time probing allegations against mums and dads if the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ for smacking is removed.

Concerned by claims, the Welsh Government asked their country’s Police Liaison Unit (PLU) to carry out research into recorded crimes between 2017 and 2018 which related to the reasonable chastisement defence.

They considered cases where no injury occurred to children and reasonable chastisement was “used as a defence or considered in the decision making process”.

If the reasonable chastisement defence is abolished these incidents, where perhaps only mild physical contact occurred, would be classed as assault for the first time.

The Welsh research found that 1370 new smacking crimes could be recorded in Wales in the first five years of a new law.

Official correspondence also implies that thousands of people could have their names recorded on a police database following reports of smacking, ‘blacklisting’ them and potentially leading to loss of employment.

The data has been seized upon in Scotland by campaign group Be Reasonable which opposes any changes to the existing smacking law.

Spokesman Simon Calvert said:

“If the Welsh figures are extrapolated to take account of Scotland’s higher population, they show an estimated 2370 investigations into smacking allegations against Scottish parents in the first five years of a new law. That’s a massive figure.

“Supporters of the ban must stop misleading the public about the real world consequences of what they propose.”

The Welsh government has admitted that:

“It is possible that some parents who physically punish their children will be charged, prosecuted and convicted, or offered a statutory out of court disposal which would be disclosed as conviction information on an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check, in situations where previously the defence of reasonable punishment may have been available.” (Explanatory Memorandum, March 2019, para. 4.10)

Simon Calvert continued:

“The ban will mean untold misery for huge numbers of ordinary families across the land.”

“We are not scaremongering – just dealing in facts.

“There are an estimated 349,000 households with dependent children in Wales and an estimated 604,000 households with dependent children in Scotland.

“This shows 73% more families with dependent children in Scotland than in Wales. Take the Wales PLU’s estimate of 1370 extra investigations in 5 years and increase it by 73% and you get 2370.”

Be Reasonable is spearheading opposition to the Bill brought forward by Green MSP John Finnie, a former police officer who says he smacked his own children. Mr Finnie has secured the support of the SNP Government for his Bill.

But Simon Calvert of Be Reasonable said:

“Should this Bill become law, it is chilling to consider that thousands of parents could face criminal charges for something as reasonable as giving a child a light tap on the back of the legs.

“A criminal conviction could destroy a family, and potentially lead to a parent losing their job, particularly if they work in the public sector.

“Currently, police are not actively pursuing reports of reasonable chastisement as assault. But they will have to if the law changes.

“How many social workers, teachers, and members of the public will also report smacking after they become aware that the law has changed?

“That could result in numerous investigations, prosecutions and convictions which are not currently recorded by the police and the courts.”