Equally Safe Joint Strategic Board minutes: March 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 6 March 2024.

Attendees and apologies

  • Siobhian Brown MSP, Minister for Victims and Community Safety, Scottish Government
  • Councillor Maureen Chalmers, Community Safety and Wellbeing Spokesperson, COSLA
  • Amanda Coulthard, Local Authority Leadership, SOLACE
  • Anna Mitchell, VAWG Specialist, Safe and Together Institute
  • Catherine Robertson, Third Sector Specialist, Zero Tolerance (attending on behalf of Laura Tomson)
  • Catriona Kirkpatrick, Third Sector Specialist, Engender
  • Eddie Docherty, Health, NHS Lanarkshire
  • Emma Forbes, Justice, COPFS
  • Karen Allan, Housing and Homelessness, ALACHO
  • Kelly McIntosh, Education, ADES
  • Linda Thompson, Third Sector Specialist, Women's Support Project
  • Mariam Ahmed, Third Sector Specialist, AMINA
  • Marsha Scott, Third Sector Specialist, Scottish Women's Aid
  • Mollie McGoran MSYP, Voice of Young People, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Sandy Brindley, Third Sector Specialist, Rape Crisis Scotland
  • Sinead Power, Social Care, Scottish Government (Attending on behalf of Joanna MacDonald)
  • Sophie Gwyther, Local Authority Leadership, VAWP Network


  • Joanna MacDonald, Social Work, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

The Minister welcomed all board members to the meeting and apologies were noted.

Minutes of November meeting and actions arising

It was confirmed that minutes from the three previous JSB meetings have now been published on gov.scot website.  All future minutes will also be published, as previously agreed. Members signed off the November minutes.

Action 5 from the JSB meeting in November, regarding further discussions between the JSB and Scottish Court Service, is still noted as outstanding.

Equally Safe Delivery Plan

The Minister thanked members for their contributions during the deep dive session on the Equally Safe Delivery Plan in February which have been used by officials, along with other feedback from subsequent engagement sessions, to begin scoping out the Delivery Plan. Sessions have been undertaken with (but is not limited to) key partners from special VAWG organisations and a range of sectors including health, justice, social work, housing and education.

The key themes that have emerged during the engagement process include: the need to create solid deliverable to ensure primary prevention is not an aspiration but action; the need for better joined up and collaborative working between and across sectors; leadership and accountability; embedding human rights; availability and disaggregation of data; intersectionality and the challenges faced by BME women; and a need to address online/digital VAWG.

A discussion on the importance of developing gender competence through a primary prevention framework took place. Officials have been exploring the possibility of Zero Tolerance and Engender leading work to develop a framework, building on work they are currently funded to do through the Delivering Equally Safe (DES) fund. 

Sophie Gwyther (VAWP Network) raised that the Dundee Violence Against Women Partnership (VAWP) is currently working with Public Health Scotland to develop a primary prevention approach and suggested working with Zero Tolerance and Engender to strengthen this approach through looking at national and local level learning.

Sandy Brindley (RCS) asked about the Fist Minister’s commitment to prioritise on positive masculinity and how this linked with Equally Safe. Officials explained that colleagues are continuing to work across government to develop what this work will look like and will provide an update to the JSB at the next meeting.

There was a discussion about prevention work being undertaken in schools. Sandy Brindley highlighted that uptake of programmes within each level of education was more than available resource. The new Gender Based Violence in Schools Framework was raised and its role as a lever to take prevention work forward was flagged. The Board agreed that it was vital that asks within education setting align with processes that drive agenda setting within the sector, such as the Annual Education Plan and workforce development plans. 

Kelly McIntosh (ADES) offered a follow up meeting with officials to explore how the education sector could be reflected within the Delivery Plan with an ambitious but realistic deliverable.

Amanda Coulthard (SOLACE) noted that it is important to ensure asks are consistent and Chief Executives within all local authorities are able to understand the ask, as well as the resource to operationalise and reach intended outcomes. However, local authorities may want to deliver in a different way depending on infrastructure and local needs. SOLACE offered to meet to discuss this point further.

Concerns over data were raised. It was agreed that there is room for improvement in identifying what data we require and how we collect it at both a local and national level, suggesting a need for an intersectional data collection plan.

Mariam Ahmed (AMINA) suggested we could learn from the model in England and Wales where it is mandatory for these statistics to be reported. Amanda Coulthard agreed to speak with Police Scotland around data sharing.

It was noted that the current approach to VAWG does not reflect the experiences of BME and there is a need for an extended definition of VAWG to reflect this. This includes the inter-generational family abuse BME women experience and their experiences of CSE.  Officials highlighted that SG are keen to utilise the existing BME network, the JSB and the knowledge within this space to build a universal understanding of experiences of BME women, without losing any gendered analysis.

Marsha Scott raised the importance of this work being supported through strong governance and accountability. She said it was vital that all JSB members consult with their constituencies to ensure robust progress and accountability.  It was agreed that Equally Safe governance and the role of the JSB needed to continue development and strengthening.

VAWG Sustainable Funding Review

Councillor Chalmers invited Katy Betchley (SG) to provide a short update on the establishment of the VAWG Sustainable Funding Project Board.

Katy Betchley explained that the Project Board was being established to take forward the development of a stable and flexible funding model, following publication of the SG and COLSA joint response to the Independent Strategic Review of Funding and Commissioning of VAWG Services. It will meet for the first time on 7 March 2024. The Project Board will report their recommendations to the JSB for consideration.

Marsha Scott noted we should start with the question of what funding we need, rather than starting by looking at the current funding structure.

Sandy Brindley asked when decisions will be made about future funding models for VAWG services.

Katy Betchley explained that the Project Board will be considering key principles for a future funding model and that there will be an opportunity to discuss the value of mapping current funding. Katy also acknowledged the anxieties about future funding and confirmed that the Project Board will be considering what happens when current funding comes to an end.

Jeff Gibbons highlighted that there are a number of funding programmes that support VAWG services and that it would be helpful to understand how they interact to ensure consistency where possible.

Summary of actions

The Minister summarised the meetings actions in full, as noted below.

AOB and close

The Minister thanked all attendees for their input and attendance, before closing the meeting.


  • SG officials to arrange further discussion between the JSB and Scottish Court service
  • Officials to set up a meeting with Zero Tolerance, Engender & Dundee VAWP and Public Health Scotland
  • SG officials to set up meeting with ADES to discuss education sector in Delivery Plan
  • SG officials to set up meeting with ADES to discuss education sector in Delivery Plan
  • SOLACE to seek clarification around data sharing with Police Scotland
  • Officials to pull together various conversations on data collection and sharing and report back to JSB
  • Considerr developing a reporting mechanism for the JSB to ensure ownership and accountability of aims and objectives within each sector
  • Katy Betchley to provide the JSB with regular updates on discussions at the VAWG Sustainable Funding Project Board
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