Tackling domestic abuse

Additional £360,000 for programme working with families.

A programme to support families and challenge the behaviour of domestic abusers is to be expanded, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson will confirm today.

An independent evaluation of the Caledonian System published today found it made women feel safer as a result of their partners participating in the programme. The extra £360,000 will be used to expand its services and improve training for staff.

The Caledonian System combines working with women and children’s services to address men’s domestic abuse as well as a men’s programme that requires court ordered participants to take part in one-to-one and group sessions with expert staff for a minimum of two years.

The additional funding will see the recruitment of a national team led by Rory Macrae, co-author of the men’s programme. His team will build on the report's findings, deliver training and ensure consistency of practice across existing hubs and review options to increase capacity in existing areas and the potential to expand access to new geographical areas. 

Speaking during a speech to the Scottish Association for the Study of Offending annual conference in Cumbernauld, Mr Matheson said:

“It is vital that we provide programmes like the Caledonian System to challenge abusive behaviour in relationships effectively, prevent further abuse and change violent behavioural patterns.

“During this Parliamentary year we are introducing legislation to create a new domestic abuse offence to ensure psychological abuse can be dealt with under the law, as well as physical abuse. We must keep reviewing how we support victims of abuse and deliver successful ways to stop perpetrators.”

Rory Macrae, National Coordinator of The Caledonian System, said:

“Domestic abuse is about power and control, and causes untold misery to victims and their children.  The programme helps men realise they can change the way they think and the feelings they experience which lead to the abusive behaviour in the first place. By doing this men are challenged to accept responsibility for their behaviour - and crucially change it. 

“The strength of the Caledonian system comes from the integration of the men’s programme with a service for women and children which offers safety planning and support and assists women to make more informed choices about the future of their relationships. The close contact with and understanding of the men’s programme is central to the Caledonian System and helps women feel safer. The further funding will enable us to further embed all aspects of this system.”


The Scottish Government commissioned Ipsos MORI Scotland to carry out an independent evaluation of the men’s programme of the Caledonian System. The research was conducted between February and June this year.

The Caledonian System was developed in 2011 as a long-term programme within a wider system of multi-agency partnership to increase women's and children's safety and change abusive behaviour. It is currently undergoing reaccreditiation from the Scottish Advisory Panel on Offender Rehabilitation. The system includes:

  • The Men's Service – a two year programme comprising preparation and motivation sessions; a group-work programme of twenty-five sessions and post group work
  • The Women's Service - providing safety planning, information, advice and emotional support to women with abusive male partners and ex-partners
  • The Children's Service – ensuring the needs of the children whose parents are involved with the Caledonian System are met and their rights upheld

The Scottish Government has committed an additional £20 million between 2015-18 to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls and make better support available for victims. The funding is being used to:

  • increase court capacity to reduce delays, inconvenience and stress for victims and their families,
  • widen access to advocacy and support services,
  • expand access to specialist legal advice,
  • explore the expansion of programmes addressing the underlying causes of perpetrator behaviour, and
  • improve education and information to increase public understanding.


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