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The Caledonian System

The Caledonian System

An integrated approach to address men's domestic abuse and to improve the lives of women, children and men

The Caledonian System is an integrated approach to address men's domestic abuse and to improve the lives of women, children and men. It does this by working with men convicted of domestic abuse related offences on a programme to reduce their re-offending while offering integrated services to women and children.

The Caledonian System was developed for the Scottish Accreditation Panel for Offender Programmes & the Equality Unit of the Scottish Government. To be effective in increasing women's and children's safety, and increasing the likelihood of men making positive changes, programmes need to be long term and embedded in a wider system of multi-agency working.

Working with men in isolation is potentially dangerous as it may raise the risk of harm to women partners. For example, women may continue the relationship when they might otherwise have ended it or men may resent having to attend and blame partners while not having yet learned how to stop their abuse. Because of the potential dangers the Caledonian men's programme is accompanied by a service which addresses the safety of women and children.

The Caledonian model therefore takes the form of an intervention system comprising:

  • The Men's Service - which provides a programme of work with men lasting at least two years, comprising preparation and motivation sessions; a group-work programme of twenty-five sessions and post group work.
  • The Women's Service - which provides a safety planning, information, advice and emotional support to women partners and ex-partners.
  • The Children's Service - which ensures that the needs of the children whose parents are involved with the Caledonian are met and their rights upheld.
  • Internal and external protocols coupled with training, designed to maximise women's and children's safety.

The Caledonian men's programme uses a person centred approach coupled with cognitive behavioural techniques in order to encourage men to recognise their abuse and take responsibility for themselves and their relationship with their ex/partners and children. It is aimed at adult men, defined as over 16 years whose abuse has been to a female partner or ex-partner. Men will be referred to the programme if they have been convicted of offences involving domestic abuse.

The Caledonian women's service offers emotional and practical support to women, advice on safety planning, risk assessment and advocacy. By working in partnership with the woman it aims to reduce her vulnerability and works with other services, like social work and the police, so that they can better support the woman and her family.

The children's service works with other agencies to ensure that a plan is in place for the child which meets their needs and reduces the impact on domestic abuse on their lives.

The women's and children's services will work with the present partner of the man, and/or the victim of his abuse at the time of the offence, and their children. Women whose partners are assessed as unsuitable for the intervention will also be offered a limited service which focuses on safety planning and referrals to alternative services.

The whole system is based on a risk and needs assessment, and a risk management approach designed to deal with possible harm to women and children. The man's risk of future domestic abuse is the focus of the men's programme and supervision; the women's and children's physical safety and psychological well-being the focus of the related services. This is done in liaison with social work, other agencies and the voluntary sector.

In this way, the Caledonian System is an effective way of reducing the risk of harm from the man and increasing the safety of women and children.

Participating Community Justice Authorities/Local Authorities:


Aberdeen City


Lothian & Borders:


East Lothian



Fife & Forth Valley:




South West Scotland:

North Ayrshire

South Ayrshire

East Ayrshire

Dumfries & Galloway

For any women affected by domestic abuse, looking for help or advice with safety planning please refer to the Women's Safety Booklet

As well as the Women's safety booklet there are several organisations who can help if you are a woman affected by domestic abuse

For men and women who are looking for help to stop their abusing we recommend you contact the 'respect' helpline on 0845 122 8609 or visit the The respect helpline website

For men who are being abused or are affected by domestic abuse we recommend that you contact the men's advice helpline on 0808 801 0327 or visit The men's advice helpline website