Domestic abuse: justice partners group minutes - May 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 16 May 2024.

Attendees and apologies

  • Scottish Government
  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service 
  • Judicial Institute for Scotland
  • Police Scotland 
  • Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service 

Items and actions

Summary of discussion report


The third in a series of quarterly roundtable discussions convened to allow justice partners to thematically discuss concerns and suggested areas for improvement which have arisen from recent reports. The third meeting revisited developments on how we might look to improve the domestic abuse evidence base alongside broader ongoing work across the domestic abuse landscape.

Previous actions

Scottish Government

SG updated members on some specific actions from the recent roundtable discussion on 15 February.

SG held a workshop on 8 May with justice agencies on how to improve interface between civil and criminal courts when it comes to domestic abuse. A meeting note will be written up with a summary of the discussion points and circulated to workshop attendees in the coming weeks.  There was a lot of useful discussion at the workshop, highlighting a broad range of issues for further consideration.

A second workshop with justice agencies is planned for later in the year to look at ‘change ideas' and what improvements will be taken forward.

A further workshop is provisionally planned for 3 October with a range of voluntary sector bodies, including VAWG (Violence Against Women and Girls) agencies. This workshop will follow a similar improvement methodology format, with a specific focus on the issues affecting individuals who have experience of the civil system and the interactions between the civil and criminal courts and processes.

Roundtable members will be updated as this work progresses.

Police Scotland

PS updated members on the work underway on the domestic abuse training matrix.

In 2020 the Probationer Training course was re-written to align with the Modern Apprenticeship in Policing via SQA. This allowed for a full refresh and update of the training and teaching materials. Domestic abuse content is split across 3 individual lessons, Introduction, Initial Investigation and Police Powers.

The content was recently (2024) reviewed and updated by the Domestic Abuse Coordination Unit

Police Scotland acknowledge that we have a generation of tier 1 responders who have not received DAMS training (due to impact of COVID and training restrictions because of large-scale events such as Op Unicorn and COP26). In response, we have renewed our Domestic Abuse Matters licence with College of Policing and are currently exploring training delivering options. Whilst we have renewed the licence with College of Policing in respect of continued DAMS, some exploration is required regarding financing the external partner aspect of the training.

In consultation with SafeLives, six new domestic abuse CPD (Continuing Professional Development) modules have been developed focusing on DASA, Multi-agency working, Cybercrime, South Asian Women, Children and Trauma modules. All CPD modules are shaped and underpinned by the lived experiences of victim's survivors of domestic abuse.

Police Scotland are planning to undertake a national CPD event for Domestic Abuse Champions in Q2 2024/25.

There is also a Domestic Abuse Investigator Course (DAIC) which is aimed at officers who will be required to undertake the role of Domestic Abuse Investigator.

Improving the evidence base

Justice Analytical Services

JAS updated members on the development of the data mapping tool.

This work will be developed in phases with Phase 1 focussing on publication functionality.

Phase 2 will look at other background information such as management information.

The next step will be to share the tool with partners to populate with their own information. This will be a useful step in the development of this work which will inform what extra work may be required. This will also enable JAS to work towards an output that members are content with.

JAS advised that Phase 2 of the process can be discussed in more detail with members however as a first step it will be important to ensure that Phase 1 is working well. Information on how partners can populate information will be shared with members once an appropriate platform has been identified.

JAS outlined the opportunity to build on the data mapping tool and to maximise the opportunity this presents. This included how other areas can be incorporated such as information on civil.

COPFS asked if this should also include online abuse as this includes a large data set. COPFS also asked if this is for domestic abuse data or VAWG more generally.

JAS advised that they hold an internal data base to log external research and an update could be provided to the group on this. JAS also outlined the ongoing work in this area, including a deep dive of cybercrime data.

SG confirmed that the data tool is for domestic abuse however the sharing of any VAWG research/evidence would be beneficial to members.

Reflections on recent IPS (Inspection of prosecution in Scotland) report – the prosecution of domestic abuse cases at sheriff summary level

Scottish Government

SG outlined the recent publication of the IPS report on the prosecution of domestic abuse cases at sheriff summary level. Whilst the findings of this report are a matter for the Lord Advocate, SG outlined the importance in joined up working with partners on the recommendations and the initiatives which will go towards achieving these.


COPFS noted that a Depute Crown Agent (DCA) lead has been identified with responsibility for implementing the recommendations in the report. COPFS also acknowledged the interconnections in the report recommendations and the importance of reviewing these in the context of other ongoing work such as the review of the SPR (standard prosecution reports).

COPFS outlined some specific areas of work such as training which is being reviewed alongside the uptake of this with staff. COPFS also outlined the need for a joined up working approach with SCTS to address court loadings.

COPFS outlined the importance of this work alongside COPFS’ strategic plan and the prosecution of VAWG cases.

COPFS will feed back on how this work progresses and indicated that this should remain a standing agenda item for the roundtable to enable further discussion and awareness of the work taking forward. Members agreed to this suggestion to enable an integrated approach to the recommendations and ongoing initiatives that will help achieve these.

SG noted the need to be clear about the relationship between the planned internal group within COPFS and the other groups looking at Domestic Abuse.

Upcoming VAWG conference

Scottish Government 

SG discussed the upcoming Holyrood Insight Violence Against Women and Girls conference which will be taking place on Wed 22 May. An SG policy official will be attending this event and Police Scotland confirmed their attendance as part of a panel discussion.

SG will share an update with partners on the event and any specific themes or areas of discussion at the next roundtable meeting and will liaise with partners before then if any areas require a more immediate discussion.


Scottish Government

SG updated members and shared a link to the new roundtable webpage which is now live. SG advised this includes the terms of reference for the group alongside the previous meeting notes.

SG updated members on the recent petition and debate in Parliament which took place on Thursday 2 May to Create an Unborn Victims of Violence Act. SG advised they would share the official report of the debate for members awareness and outlined that the debate focused on cases where miscarriage has been caused through acts of domestic abuse. SG will add this specific topic to the agenda for the next meeting to discuss in more depth and seek feedback from partners on the specific areas that came out of the debate. This included the creation of a specific offence, the creation of new statutory aggravations and the current work of the Scottish Sentencing Council’s development of guidelines on domestic abuse. SG advised they have liaised with the Scottish Sentencing Council and will be meeting with them again this month in relation to this specific area. SG also outlined that it would be beneficial to work alongside COPFS on the availability of data to progress this area of work.

SG discussed a recent meeting with colleagues in South Australia who were keen to discuss the implementation of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 in Scotland, including the training that took place with partners towards the implementation of the Act. Colleagues in South Australia were also interested in the data that roundtable members are working on and advised members of the ongoing dialogue we will continue in relation to this area.


COPFS advised it would be helpful to link in with colleagues in South Australia to better understand their ongoing work. COPFS also advised they will be presenting to colleagues in New South Wales, Australia next month on the implementation of Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018.

COPFS acknowledged liaising with SG on the availability of data regarding the recent debate in Parliament.

Conclusions and observations  

Scottish Government

SG will send a Doodle Poll to Roundtable members to establish the date for the next meeting. SG will also share agenda items in advance and seek any potential agenda items from members. SG will send a meeting note to Roundtable members for review prior to the next meeting and will upload this to the roundtable webpage.

Next steps/actions

  • SG will send a Doodle Poll to Roundtable members to establish the date for the next meeting.
  • SG will circulate agenda items ahead of the next meeting and seek feedback from members on potential areas of discussion.
  • SG will send a meeting note to Roundtable members for review prior to the next meeting.
  • COPFS will share further information on other relevant VAWG research.
  • SG will send a link to the data mapping tool to members for partners to populate with publication information.
  • SG will share with members the report from the recent debate on the petition to create an unborn victims of violence Act.
  • SG will liaise with COPFS in relation to available data and the petition.
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