Domestic abuse pilot areas announced
Justice Secretary welcomes pilot on Clare’s Law.
The Justice Secretary has welcomed an announcement by Police Scotland that a new Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse, also known as Clare’s Law, will be piloted in two areas of Scotland.
It was confirmed at the latest meeting of a specially convened multi-agency project board looking at domestic abuse that Aberdeen City and Ayrshire will participate in the six-month trial. The Scottish Government, Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), ASSIST advocacy services and Scottish Women’s Aid all sit on the Police Scotland-chaired board.
Kenny MacAskill also welcomed the timescales that have been announced, with the pilots starting in late November and running for six months before a thorough evaluation takes place.
Mr MacAskill was speaking as he visited the Caledonian System, a domestic abuse programme in Aberdeen which works with the perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse.
Speaking after the visit, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:
“Today’s Police Scotland announcement on the progress of the Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme is another very positive step forward in protecting the victims of domestic abuse.
“It is right that people in relationships should have the opportunity to seek the facts about their partner’s background if, for example, they have concerns that their partner has a history of violence and I am particularly interested in the results of the pilot to assess how effective it can be.
“The scheme has already proved successful in England and Wales and it is important that the practical implementation is tested to ensure that it is suitable for Scotland’s unique justice system.
“Clearly, combatting domestic abuse requires a range of actions and activity and today’s announcement is another tool justice agencies can use in their work to tackle this unacceptable behaviour. The Scottish Government is investing £34.5m in funding between 2012 – 15 to be targeted at a range of initiatives working to tackle violence against women, including domestic abuse in Scotland.
“Initiatives like the Caledonian System I visited today are providing vital support to allow those whose lives have been blighted by the harm of domestic abuse to move on in a positive way, and that can often include working with perpetrators as well as victims.”
Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson added: "I am pleased to welcome the Justice Secretary to Aberdeen today. Seeing first-hand the work of projects such as the Caledonian System moves domestic abuse from a report or statistic into a reality.
“Tackling domestic abuse is a key priority for Police Scotland and one I am proud to lead on. The Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse has the power not just to keep people safe but to transform lives. In the meantime Police Scotland will continue to take a zero tolerance approach to all forms of domestic abuse."
Lesley Simpson, Service Manager at the Caledonian System, said: "The Caledonian System is so effective because it works with both the perpetrators of domestic abuse and the victims. It offers voluntary support to the women and children who have been harmed, while their partners or ex-partners undertake an intensive two-year programme of work. This wrap-around service is a new way of working and allows workers to have a better overview of the issues with better results.
"Men’s workers say that the length and structure of the group programme holds men accountable for their actions and for making changes in their thinking and behaviour. As women are also being supported as part of the service there is an opportunity to check out that their partners behaviour has improved. The women’s workers say that the support gives women a voice and the confidence to make choices and changes for a safer future.”
Aberdeen City Council Social Care and Wellbeing convener Councillor Len Ironside CBE said: "Domestic abuse is a blight on society and I wholeheartedly welcome the fact that this new initiative will be piloted in Aberdeen.
“Giving people who have suspicions the right to discover whether their partner has a record of domestic abuse can potentially offer extra protection to those who may be at risk.
"We at the City Council will work closely with the other partner organisations on this pilot scheme to make it work. I am sure it will show positive results and will be rolled out across the rest of the country."
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill visited the Caledonian System in Aberdeen and met with perpetrators of domestic abuse who are being helped by the Caledonian men’s programme to change their behaviour, as well as women who have experienced domestic abuse and are receiving help and support from the Caledonian women’s service . He was joined by Police Scotland’s Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson, Cllr Len Ironside and Lesley Simpson the project.
The Caledonian System in Aberdeen works with perpetrators of domestic abuse to challenge their thinking, consider the impact of their previous actions and change their behaviour. Alongside this, it also provides vital support and guidance to victims of domestic abuse.
Over 100 men are currently engaged with the programme in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire. £7.5 million Scottish Government funding has been allocated for the Caledonian System in 2012-15.
The Caledonian System has been rolled out to 13 local authority areas - Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, Borders, Falkirk, Stirling, Clackmannanshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, and Dumfries & Galloway.