Equally Safe delivery plan: year two update report

An overview of progress made since the publication of the Equally Safe delivery plan in November 2017 and our priorities for the year ahead.

Highlights and Moving Forward: Priority Four

Men desist from all forms of violence against women and girls and perpetrators of such violence receive a robust and effective response.


  • Justice responses are robust, swift, consistent and coordinated.
  • Men who carry out violence against women and girls are identified early and held to account by the criminal and civil justice system.
  • Relevant links are made between the experience of women, children and young people in the criminal and civil system.

We recognise the importance of holding perpetrators of gender based violence  to account and that our legislation reflects the reality of gender based violence. A range of activity has been undertaken in the past year across Scotland to help us achieve our objectives under this priority. Much of this activity has also provided a foundation to build upon over the coming year. Actions have included:


Commencement of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) 2018

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 came into force on 1st April 2019. Implementation of this legislation marks a watershed moment in which the destructive impact of coercive and controlling behaviour can be addressed by criminal law. The Act creates a specific offence covering abusive behaviour amounting to a “course of conduct” – enabling physical, psychological and controlling behaviour to be prosecuted within the same offence. It also reflects the fact that children are harmed by domestic abuse by providing for a statutory aggravation in relation to children and places a duty on courts in all domestic abuse cases to consider imposing a non-harassment order to protect the victim.

“I am proud Scotland is leading the way with this ground-breaking legislation which uniquely recognises the effect of domestic abuse on child victims as well as adults.”

Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Justice

In order to ensure maximum impact, the Scottish Government undertook a public awareness campaign to coincide with the legislation coming into effect in April 2019. The campaign sought to ensure that the public was aware that the law has changed and that victims understood how they can report abuse. It was intended to reinforce the message that coercive and controlling behaviour is domestic abuse, and that this new legislation will help to hold perpetrators to account.

The campaign ran across multiple platforms, including television, radio, online and print over a period of six weeks. It was supported by PR, social media content and stakeholder / partner engagement. It was developed in partnership with relevant 3rd sector groups such as Scottish Women’s Aid, ASSIST and Shakti Women’s Aid.

As well as efforts to raise awareness of the impact of the legislation and increase understanding of coercive and controlling behaviour among the general public, we also recognise that the devastating impact of domestic abuse and its impact on victims must be fully understood by those on the frontline who are responding directly to this violence and/or abuse. The Scottish Government has provided £825,000 in funding to Police Scotland to develop training which is being delivered collaboratively with Safe Lives. Since December 2018 over 7,000 of the 14,000 staff identified to attend the training have done so and 20,000 officers and staff have completed the online learning. Police Scotland are also training around 750 domestic abuse ‘Champions’, to provide that vital link between those officers and staff on the frontline of policing and proper practice.

Although it is crucial that frontline staff and responders are trained in the new legislation, we realise that the wider criminal justice system must also be equipped to make decisions and hold perpetrators to account. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, who prosecute criminal cases, has developed an in house package of training for our prosecutors, including workshop training and self-completion e-learning on the new legislation to help prosecutors understand and appreciate the dynamics of controlling relationships. The Judicial Institute for Scotland has also launched interactive blended training for all sheriffs and judges to support the implementation of Act and all judges in Scotland will also be allocated to one of eight face-to-face domestic abuse courses taking place in the Institute’s purpose-built judicial learning suite over the course of 2019.

Number of incidents or crimes of domestic abuse with a female victim recorded by police

Number of men convicted of domestic abuse[6]

2014/15: 41,564 2014/15: 10,796
2017/18: 44,265 2017/18: 8,618

Between April and June 2019:

  • 414 new crimes of domestic abuse have been reported (94% had a female victim)
  • 190 DASA cases reported to COPFS being progressed for prosecution
  • 13 convictions under the new Act with a significant number of other cases proceeding through the courts

Successful roll out of the innovative Caledonian Programme, a court mandated male perpetrator programme with integrated women and children’s services

The Caledonian System has been rolled out to a further six local authorities: Glasgow, Dundee, Perth and Kinross, Highland, Fife and South Lanarkshire. It is now available in 19 local authorities, and 75% of the population of Scotland live in local authority areas which deliver the Caledonian. The successful bids included partnership arrangements with Women’s Aid, Assist, Action for Children and Circle to deliver the women’s and children’s service aspects of the system.

Training and briefing on the Caledonian System has been delivered to key workers, sheriffs, and judges, and Caledonian has contributed to the design of the Domestic Abuse Matters training being delivered to Police Scotland personnel.

“The benefits of being co-located with the Caledonian team have been considerable. We have processes in place to discuss any victim whose partner/ ex-partner has been referred for assessment. This means from the earliest stage we are working together to encourage engagement with the assessment process undertaken by the men’s and women’s workers and the support that can be offered once an order is imposed. For the victim there is no duplication and it is clear who is doing what. Importantly there can be ongoing discussions about risk management. Caledonian Women’s Services Workers are also referring victims to MARAC who may be “invisible” to other agencies as there is no longer any police involvement or court process.”

Promoting the principles of the Safe and Together model™.

As set out in the 2019-20 Programme for Government, the Scottish Government remains committed to promoting the principles of the Safe and Together model™ which seeks to keep children who have experienced domestic abuse safe and together with their non-abusive parent, while supporting and acknowledging non abusive parents’ protective efforts and ensuring perpetrators are held accountable for their abuse.

The Scottish Government provided funding for Social Work Scotland to commission work with stakeholders to look at how best to deliver the model in Scotland. This has formed the basis for the development of new proposals to promote Safe and Together at a local and national level. This work has been underpinned by the US Safe and Together Institute’s appointment this year of a new UK Lead. We will continue to work with the UK Lead and stakeholders to support work to roll out the model in Scotland.

Key Learning from the 2018/19 Equally Safe Quality Standards and Performance Framework Data Returns

Key Learning from the 2018/19 Equally Safe Quality Standards and Performance Framework Data Returns

The following examples of good practice identified through the Equally Safe Quality Standards and Performance Framework provide a snapshot of work taking place in local authority areas across Scotland to progress Priority Area 4:

  • Court Mandated Programmes for Perpetrators of VAWG – East Lothian and Midlothian
    East Lothian and Midlothian operate the Caledonian System for domestic abuse offenders and have a shared children’s worker. Additionally, they jointly operate an accredited programme of work with Registered Sex Offenders.
    Work is also ongoing to embed the Safe & Together model in services across East Lothian and Midlothian, with 2 cohorts of training taking place in 2018/19 and a further 3 cohorts planned in the year ahead.
  • Non court mandated work with perpetrators - Edinburgh
    The Safer Families project in Edinburgh works with domestically abusive men who have not been convicted. It uses the Caledonian men’s programme and has an integrated women’s service, taking most of its referrals from Children and Families social work. Safer Families also includes Respekt which delivers the Caledonian men’s programme and women’s service in Polish in a culturally informed way.
  • Non-court mandated perpetrator interventions - Dundee
    Dundee has appointed a dedicated Domestic Abuse Resource Worker who engages with perpetrators of domestic abuse on a voluntary basis. While this is currently only one post within the Council, an evaluation of the programme has been undertaken and demonstrated positive outcomes.
  • 1-1 work with Perpetrators – Western Isles
    Due to geography and the low volume of cases spread throughout the islands, delivering group work programmes for perpetrators of domestic abuse has not proved possible. However, Criminal Justice Social Work in  the Western Isles report routinely engaging with perpetrators through 1:1 work using accredited or approved tools and programmes where available. A mandated Court requirement to undertake ‘offence focused work’ is made by the Courts locally to ensure compliance.

Moving forward

We intend to build on our achievements and successes and will take forward a range of initiatives in the coming year.

These will include:

  • We will continue to work with those in housing, social work, health and schools to ensure that professionals have resources available to them to support a shared understanding of domestic abuse
  • Exploring policy options to increase access to positive behaviour change programmes for domestically abusive men
  • Exploring what more can be done to address prostitution in Scotland, including consulting on approaches to challenges men’s demand for prostitution.



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