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Publication - Minutes

Equally Safe in Further and Higher Education minutes: January 2018

Published: 30 May 2018
Date of meeting: 26 Jan 2018
Location: Victoria Quay, Edinburgh

Minutes from the meeting of the Equally Safe in Further and Higher Education Working Group held on 26 January 2018.

30 May 2018
Equally Safe in Further and Higher Education minutes: January 2018

Attendees and apologies


  • Anni Donaldson, Knowledge Exchange Fellow and Equally Safe in Higher Education Lead, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Strathclyde
  • Kelly Claffey, Equally Safe Higher Education Team, University of Strathclyde
  • Vonnie Sandlan, Senior Policy Officer, Colleges Scotland
  • Suzanne Marshall, College Development Network
  • Duncan McKay, Senior Public Affairs Officer, Universities Scotland
  • Kathryn Dawson, Rape Crisis Scotland
  • Isabelle Kerr, Rape Crisis Centre, Glasgow
  • Mhairi McGowan, ASSIST, Glasgow
  • Shuwanna Aaron, NUS Scotland, Women’s Officer
  • Marie-Claire Chaffey, Senior Procurator Fiscal Depute, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
  • Detective Inspector Julie Marshall and Detective Chief Inspector Rory Hamilton, National Rape Task Force and Human Trafficking Unit, Police Scotland
  • Mrs Fiona Drouet, #emilytest
  • Gareth Allen, Directorate of Advanced Learning and Science, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • James Boyce, Directorate of Advanced Learning and Science, Scottish Government
  • Steven Paxton, Directorate of Advanced Learning and Science, Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Saira Kapasi, Justice Directorate, Scottish Government
  • Trevor Owen, Cohesive Communities, Scottish Government


  • Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Houston, Police Scotland
  • Neil Rennick, Director of Justice, Scottish Government
  • Ria Phillips, Justice Directorate, Scottish Government
  • Susannah Lane, Head of Public Affairs, Universities Scotland
  • Jenny Lees, Campaigns and Engagement Manager, NUS Scotland
  • Anne-Marie Hicks, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
  • Dr Aimee McCullough, University of Strathclyde
  • Fiona Burns, Scottish Funding Council.

Items and actions

1. Welcome and introduction

Gareth Allen, Scottish Government, welcomed everybody to the second meeting of the Working Group. He also welcomed Mrs Fiona Drouet to the meeting. Mrs Drouet had met with Ms Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science on 16 January 2018 at the Scottish Parliament, and had been invited by the Minister to join the Group.

2. Notes of the meeting of the working group of 8 December 2017

The notes of the meeting of the Working Group of 8 December 2017 (copies previously issued) were approved.

3. Discussion paper: the role of the working group and next steps

Gareth introduced the Discussion Paper, explaining the background to the Equally Safe in Further and Higher Education initiative. The proposed aims of the Working Group were to:

  • support the adaptation of the Equally Safe in Higher Education Toolkit for use by colleges and support the roll out of the Toolkit across both colleges and universities
  • identify and work on, as appropriate, issues and responses that may need further refinement
  • devise and plan ways to utilise the next Fresher’s Fayres and parallel college arrangements, to raise awareness and provide information

Steven Paxton, Scottish Government, advised that as part of the collaborative approach outlined in the paper, a series of ‘engaged conversations’ will take place with key stakeholders: UCU, Scottish Women’s Aid, Violence Against Women and Girls Network, AMOSSHE, Head of Child Protection in February and March 2018.

It was proposed that the Working Group meet bi-monthly and that a summary of progress, as appropriate, be published as part of the regular Equally Safe Bulletin. Ministers will also receive a regular update on the work of the Working Group. It was also proposed that the notes of the meetings of the Group be published on the Scottish Government’s web site.

In the following discussion, it was proposed that an ‘engaged conversation’ also take place with Education Scotland, and that they be invited to join the Working Group. Reference was made to the Whole Schools Approach, funded by the Scottish Government, to tackle gender based violence (GBV), which will be evaluated by the University of Glasgow. There was a cross over with the Working Group’s remit. Trevor Owen explained that Scottish Government will be working with Education Scotland to bring about a consistency in the offer to schools. The key principle underpinning this work is prevention.

It was suggested that developing work around Fresher’s Week and the start of the College Year be considered a task rather than an objective of the Working Group.

Reference was also made to the Letter of Guidance issued by the Minister to the Scottish Funding Council as another helpful way to support the implementation of Equally Safe in Further and Higher Education.

The Working Group agreed:

  • to hold bi-monthly meetings (March, May, July and September 2018). Thereafter the dates will be reviewed by the Working Group
  • to the publication of:
    • the notes of each Working Group meeting (once approved) on the Scottish Government web site; and
    • a summary of progress, as appropriate, on the regular Equally Safe Bulletin
  • that an engaged conversation take place with Education Scotland and they be invited to the next meeting of the Working Group

Action: SP/GA to take forward.

4. Equally Safe toolkit: update

Anni Donaldson, University of Strathclyde, provided an update on the current development of the Tool Kit, which was due for launch at the end of March 2018. She outlined five key elements:

Strategy: covering issues such as institutional policy, infrastructure and response pathways and staff training underpinned by a partnership approach.

Prevention: covering issues such as the further development of Bystander Programmes and working with NUS Scotland to develop packages for Student’s Unions.

Intervention: building on the on-going partnership working with Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis.

Curriculum: Another MOOC will commence on 5th February 2018.

Research: Guidance is being prepared for Universities who wish to undertake on campus research. This has been piloted at the University of Strathclyde and data is currently being analysed.

The key issue in the development of the Tool Kit was around information sharing and developing reporting/response pathways. At the moment there is not a consistent approach to information sharing with Police Scotland and the current reporting guidelines for use in universities, dating from 1994 (the Pinset Mason Guidelines), were being reviewed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service with a view to their applicability to the Scottish legal framework. Anni advised that extra work would need to be done beyond the launch of the Tool Kit to address these issues.

DI Julie Marshall, Police Scotland, highlighted the importance of a Survivor Centred approach and of providing support to students so that they can stay on at University. In terms of reporting she made reference to the Police Scotland Initial Briefing Report (IBR) as a possible template that could be adapted for use in FE and HE. Staff at any grade could use this pro forma and pass this onto a trained person for action. The principle underpinning this has to be the safety of the person who has experienced an incident. They will be experiencing trauma and it is important that clear response pathways are in place. DI Marshall also emphasised the importance of FE/HE Institutions having a consistent approach to working with Police Scotland through Information Sharing Protocols: first response reports can be used as Court documents.

Staff training and the establishment of response pathways would therefore be vital. Anni Donaldson explained that a three-tier level of training was proposed.

Level One: Initial introduction to Gender Based Violence.
Level Two: Responder Training for a range of staff/students including hall representatives, cleaners, lecturers, researchers etc.
Level Three: The recruitment of, what at this stage are termed “Champions”. These would be members of staff who have a greater level of knowledge about criminal justice polices. At this level, a training for trainers package is being developed with the possibility of security staff being able to use this training for professional accreditation purposes.

Sample, response pathways will be developed as part of the Strathclyde Toolkit but it is up to each institution to map out and develop their own pathways. The three levels of training would serve to mitigate risk. Within the Level Three training, lessons could be learned from the work of Glasgow Rape Crisis around Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Harassment (DASH), reporting consistency, making local links and identifying risks and mitigating actions. Universities and colleges need to have the appropriate internal processes and pathways in place, that staff working with those affected by GBV or sexual harassment are trained and that there are appropriate links between internal investigation process and formal criminal justice processes.

Suzanne Marshall, Colleges Development Network (CDN) made reference to the safeguarding approach in the FE Sector. The College Development Network (CDN) has a Safeguarding Forum. Learning from colleges could also be transferred to universities to further inform the development of the Toolkit.

Saira Kapasi, Scottish Government, raised how best to host the Toolkit. One possibility was to learn the lessons from the Trans Education Initiative which as a .ac domain name ( and developing a community of practice around the Toolkit. There was also the opportunity to look at a regional events for the Toolkit and explore the role of the Violence Against Women and Girls Networks through the Improvement Service in supporting this.

The Working Group will receive an update on the toolkit launch and ideas on rolling out the Toolkit at the next meeting.

Action: AD/SP/SK/GA to take forward.

5. Engaging with the lived experience of survivors

Isabelle Kerr, Glasgow Rape Crisis outlined the extent of the of the partnership with the University of Strathclyde and its on campus service provision. The key aim of the service was to ensure that students can continue with their education without dropping out. The service is in high demand and has made links to, for example to MARACs (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences), highlighting the importance of effective reporting and response pathways.

Mrs Drouet shared her daughter Emily’s story, who had been a law student at the University of Aberdeen. Mrs Drouet highlighted the importance of staff training, as university staff feel vulnerable, and robust reporting and response pathways being in place. She welcomed the approach being taken by the Working Group. She further highlighted that current reporting guidelines were out of date, with a focus on the victim not the institution and there is a lack of clarity around codes of conduct for staff and students. There is an opportunity to build in codes of student conduct/behaviour as part of the letting agreements students sign for halls of residence. Such codes of conduct should be reinforced again just before the Christmas party season and at regular periods through the academic year. Sign posts advising of where to get help should be on the back of the doors of rooms in halls and in campus pubs and clubs. Codes of student conduct, as a condition of let should also be extended to private lets and sports teams should have to undertake GBV training as a condition of using university facilities.

Shuwanna Aaron, NUS Scotland advised of a support card which had been developed for staff to sit behind their ID card. This was sent to all NUS Scotland affiliated members, as part of a wider campaign. NUS Scotland will be hosting a Working Group for women’s students later in the spring to inform its GBV strategy and will have the opportunity to obtain more information about the effectiveness of its posters and business cards campaign.

One key issue was around the use of language as part of an early intervention strategy. NUS Scotland would have an active role in this to ensure that the language used in campaigns reflected the current lived realities of students. Saira Kapasi highlighted that lessons could be learned from the campaign around the forthcoming Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 and the campaigns to tackle racism and sectarianism, by Show Racism the Red Card and Nil by Mouth. Universities and colleges might have their own competitions to come up with their own campaigns. Reference was also made to the Bystander video, developed by Dr Helen Mott, University of the West of England.

Action: At the next Working Group the Group will consider initial thinking on how to utilise the next Fresher’s Fayres, and parallel college arrangements, to raise awareness and provide information, including being mindful of the use of language in any campaigns.

6. Guidance on handling student misconduct

Marie-Claire Chaffey, Senior Procurator Fiscal Depute, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) advised that the COPFS, Scotland’s independent prosecution service, was in the process of reviewing the Pinset Mason Guidelines, originally published in 1994. She outlined the difference between civil and criminal evidence and the links the COPFS has with Disclosure Scotland, General Medical Council and General Teaching Council.

She advised that an abused person may not want to report abuse to the Police right away and it may take months or even years for the person to report abuse. Nevertheless, appropriate reporting pathways had to be in place. There was a need for clarity in what actually constitutes a criminal offence now in light of Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018. Saira Kapasi would be happy to liaise with Marie Claire and made reference to the evolving Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) in Glasgow and at Aberdeen and Tayside. SARCs could, potentially, be further evolved as part of a coordinated approach on campus safety.

Action: Further updates to be provided to the working group as appropriate (MC).

7. Dates for forthcoming meetings of the working group

Action: Steven Paxton advised that he would provide a list dates for future meetings of the Working Group through to September 2018.


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