Equally Safe delivery plan: year one update

Equally Safe delivery plan was published in November 2017. This report provides an overview of progress made to date and sets out priorities for the year ahead.

Summary of progress

The Equally Safe strategy prioritises primary prevention and challenges the notion that violence is inevitable or acceptable. Many of the actions being delivered under this priority are intended to raise awareness and challenge the existing attitudes that create the societal conditions for gender based violence to flourish. 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:

  • Expansion of the delivery of the Rape Crisis Sexual Violence Prevention programe in schools, to increase the understand of consent and healthy relationships.[1]

Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS) provide a national sexual violence prevention programme to local authority secondary schools across Scotland. Rape Crisis Centre Prevention Workers deliver workshops modules that cover gender, consent, sexual violence and how it can be prevented, sexualisation and pornography, social media, the impact of sexual violence and how to access support. The programme aims to provide consistency in approaches to the prevention of sexual violence and contributes to Equally Safe in its aim to address the systematic inequality, attitudes and assumptions that give rise to violence and abusive behaviour.

In March 2018, RCS received an additional £594k over 3 years from the Scottish Government Equality Budget to existing funding to roll out the programme to all 32 local authorities (11 in addition to those already covered). Through expansion of the programme RCS estimates that by 2020 they will have reached approximately 48% local authority secondary schools, and will also have extended the reach of their local partnership and strategic work into all local authorities.

Feedback from young people continues to demonstrate high levels of accord with the messages of the workshops and that young people self-assess as having gained knowledge and understanding in relation to sexual violence.

The work carried out by Rape Crisis Scotland in secondary schools is complemented by a suite of other actions across organisations and Scottish Government sectors aimed at educating children and young people about ‘consent’ and healthy relationships, including a review of the personal and social education curriculum to investigate how consent is taught in schools, as well as a commitment to develop a set of key messages on healthy relationship for professionals working with young people.

Through these early interventions we hope to instil positive messages and realise our long term objective of preventing violence before it actually occurs.

However, our commitment to end violence against women and girls in the education sector also extends to our institutions where significant work has been undertaken by the University of Strathclyde and a variety of stakeholders, supported by the Scottish Government.

  • On-going work with Universities and Colleges to ensure the provision of a safe environment for students and staff, utilising learning from the ‘Equally Safe in Further and Higher Education Project’.[2]

Research has indicated that women students experience of a range of unwanted behaviour during their time as a student, ranging from ‘everyday’ verbal and non-verbal harassment, to serious episodes of stalking, physical and sexual assault. One in seven survey respondents has experienced a serious physical or sexual assault during their time as a student[3]. The issue of gender based violence at colleges and universities has increasingly risen in prominence and gained traction since the UK Taskforce was appointed to examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students and high profile media cases throughout the UK.

The University of Strathclyde received over £600,000 of funding over two years from the Scottish Government Violence Against Women and Girls Justice Budget to pilot a 2 year project to develop an Equally Safe in Higher Education Toolkit for preventing gender-based violence within higher education institutions (£292,729 in 2016-17, and £311,231 in 2017-18). The toolkit takes forward the principles of the #emilytest campaign set up by Fiona Drouet, in memory of her daughter Emily. This campaign was set up after Mrs Drouet’s daughter, Emily(who was a student at the University of Aberdeen) took her own life. Emily had been in a violent and abusive relationship with another student.

'We learned of the prevalence of sexual, emotional and physical violence on campuses in the worst possible way. We lost our adored daughter Emily after she suffered a campaign of abuse by a fellow student while in her first year of studying law. Whilst these issues are societal and not restricted to Further and Higher Education, the demographics of FE & HE mean students are at a significantly high risk. The development of the toolkit has given institutions a common platform to openly address gender based violence on campus. This has resulted not only in the implementation of the toolkit across Scotland, but in a commitment by many stakeholders in continually assessing the effectiveness of the approach and sharing of best practice. In this most difficult time for our family, we have been incredibly comforted and reassured by the resoluteness of this governmental team in protecting students by using the lessons learned from Emily's experience.' Fiona Drouet July 2018

The Toolkit was developed at University of Strathclyde in close collaboration with a range of external partners and stakeholders and was launched in April 2018 by the Minister for Further Education and Science. It provides universities and colleges with a detailed and comprehensive set of resources to prevent gender based violence on their campuses. The Scottish Government has provided additional funding to support, amongst other things, the implementation and roll out of the Toolkit and its adaptation and adoption for the college sector. The April 2018 Letter of Guidance to the Scottish Funding Council[4] made clear the Scottish Government’s expectations for institutions to adopt and adapt the Equally Safe in Higher Education Toolkit, use a Gendered Analysis in doing so, assess their own policies and practices against the Toolkit, and put in place measures to keep students safe and engaged with their studies while meeting the needs and diversity of survivors

The Scottish Funding Council has developed Outcome Agreement Guidance to support Universities and Colleges to put in place on the policies and procedures to tackle and prevent VAWG, which includes implementation of the toolkit. This Guidance was published in October of this year.

Universities Scotland has also taken the lead, working in collaboration with NUS Scotland, Colleges Scotland, college Development Network and members of the Gender Based Violence Support Cards Sub-Group in further developing the #emilytest concept through creation of gender based violence support cards, stickers and supporting materials for use by staff and students which will contain national helpline numbers and links to online resources. The support cards were formally launched by the deputy First Minister at Edinburgh Napier University on 27 September 2018.

In addition, the Student Awards Agency Scotland produced an infographic for use in its Social Media: for example, Linked IN which promotes Equally Safe in Further and Higher Education.


Our institutions have an important role to play in tackling gender based violence. The launch of the Toolkit and ongoing work to provide supporting materials to raise awareness of gender based violence marks a significant turning point within our institutions and sends a clear message that violence against women and girls in not accepted and will not be tolerated.

Although there is still work to be done in the wider sense, it is encouraging to note that following the launch of the toolkit, Institutions are increasingly recognising the role they have to play in addressing gender based violence and are taking forward their own initiatives.


Fearless Edinburgh

Earlier this year, following the launch of the Equally Safe in Further and Higher Education toolkit, a consortium of Edinburgh universities, colleges, Police Scotland and third sector launched “Fearless Edinburgh”, an innovative working group that aims to address sexual violence within the Higher Education sector. The partnership aims to harness a collective will among establishments and key partners to prevent sexual violence and create a culture of confidence to challenge behaviours and provide trauma-informed support for survivors through a whole institutional approach.

The partnership was commended by the then former Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville who said:

The collaborative approach taken by the Fearless Edinburgh Partnership to tackle gender based violence is to be commended and is an example of how the Toolkit…can bring together effective partnerships to prevent violence, harassment and abuse happening on and off campus.”

Our preventative approach extends further than the education sector. We acknowledge that harmful gender stereotypes and the manner in which women are portrayed in the media can play a crucial part in shaping society’s understanding of gender based violence.

  • Successfully publishing refreshed media guidelines for reporting on domestic abuse.[5]

Traditionally violence against women remained largely hidden and was consigned to the private sphere. However, times are changing and society is increasingly shining a light on violence against women and girls.

Supported by the Scottish Government, Guidance ‘What journalists need to know about the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill’ was published by Zero Tolerance in October 2017 following the introduction of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill in March 2017. This provides practical advice about the approach editors, journalists and media professionals should consider taking to ensure responsible reporting on violence against women where coercion and control is a particular feature. This complements their refreshed ‘Handle with Care’ Guidance (published December 2017) and their photography campaign ‘One Thousand Words’ in partnership with Scottish Women’s Aid where acclaimed photographer and storyteller Laura Dodsworth captured the true images of domestic abuse, which do not necessarily involve depictions of physical violence.

Image is courtesy of and is Copyright Laura Dodsworth[6]

Image is courtesy of and is © Copyright Laura Dodsworth

The media has the potential to affect the way we think, understand and talk about violence within our respective communities. Responsible media reporting can therefore help us drive change and challenge the existing attitudes that have traditionally allowed violence against women and girls to flourish.


The ‘Write to end VAWG’ Media awards

The Write to End Violence Against Women Awards campaign is running its sixth annual awards for excellence in journalism. This Zero Tolerance initiative seeks to promote higher standards in journalism by rewarding those committed to furthering the cause of gender equality through their work.


‘Violence Unseen’ photography exhibition

Zero Tolerance and award winning photographer Alice Brown worked with groups and individuals affected by men’s violence to create a series of photographs that explore the types of violence against women that are not acknowledged in mainstream society and remain unacceptably hidden. Between 3 September and 9 September 2018 Zero Tolerance ‘VIOLENCE UNSEEN’ photography exhibition showcased at a gallery in Edinburgh.

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:

  • Launching a major campaign on sexual harassment and sexism early 2019 to raise awareness and encourage behaviour change. The Scottish Government are working alongside Rape Crisis Scotland to further this commitment.
  • The Scottish Government and Zero Tolerance, convening organisations from a range of sectors to explore the role of the media in preventing violence against women and girls.
  • The Scottish Government will convene a round table on what more can be done to tackle online abuse and misogyny.
  • With Scottish Government and COSLA support, Close the Gap will pilot an accreditation scheme for employers which will support employers to tackle gender based violence in their work place.
  • The Scottish Government will bring forward a publicity campaign to coincide with the new domestic abuse offence coming into force, and to underline the message that psychological abuse in a relationship is unacceptable.
  • COSLA will actively support key International Awareness Raising Campaigning action, including the UN Women’s International 16 Days of Action for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the White Ribbon Campaign and will invite all Local Authorities to plan for and participate in a co-ordinated approach to 16 Days of Action for the Elimination of Violence against Women in 2019.
  • COSLA will promote opportunities for Members, Office Bearers and staff members to develop greater awareness and understanding of the gendered analysis of violence and abuse and the scope of the strategy.
  • COSLA will support its staff and Members to make gender competent decisions to deliver a Scottish society that embraces equality and mutual respect and rejects all forms of violence against women and girls. Robust gender competence enhancement will also inform part of the ongoing organisational development.

Women and girls thrive as equal citizens: socially, culturally, economically and politically.


  • Women and girls are safe, respected and equal in our communities
  • Women and men have equal access to power and resources.

Summary of progress

We recognise that gender inequality is a root cause of violence against women and girls, and despite advances, there remains a persistent inequality between men and women. Many of the actions being delivered under this priority are intended to place women on a more equal footing with men, with access to the same power and resources. 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:

  • Introducing the Workplace Equality Fund to address longstanding barriers in the labour marker.[7]

The Scottish Labour market continues to be characterised by gender inequality and a significant gender pay gap and the Scottish Government and partner organisations are taking important steps to help bridge this gap.

The Workplace Equality Fund opened on 8 February 2018 and will support employers to reduce employment inequalities and discrimination. Nine projects will be funded (£315,608 for 2018/19) through the Fund’s first round. These projects will:

  • support women returners back into the finance sector;
  • help a range of companies become age-inclusive;
  • build flexible and agile workplaces for companies in the construction, STEM, finance, technology, and furnishing sectors;
  • improve mental health in the workplace; and
  • deliver training in leadership and boardroom governance to women in the technology sector.

A second round of applications opened on 2nd July 2018 and applications closed on 30th August 2018.

  • Continuing to take forward a range of actions to tackle pay inequality, change workplace practices and workplace cultures to support gender equality.[8]

The Scottish Government have provided £205,000 to Close the Gap for July 2018-June 19 to challenge and change employment practices and workplace cultures. Close the Gap have developed a free online toolkit to assist employers to report their gender pay gap to comply with regulations. Funding donated to the Workplace Equality Fund will also be used to support employers deliver innovative solutions to overcome workforce inequalities, including helping them to identify and close their pay gaps.

We are also working to improve gender balance in subjects and areas that are traditionally male dominated.

  • Delivering a STEM strategy for education and training.[9]

Image from The Everyday Heroes Participation Project

Image from The Everyday Heroes Participation Project.[10]

In October 2017, the Scottish Government published a 5 year STEM strategy aimed at increasing interest in STEM. The strategy also lays out measures for addressing gender bias and stereotyping and aims to combat inequality and shortages in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

The STEM Strategy Implementation Group was established in December 2017 to oversee delivery of the Strategy and bring together data to help the process of implementation with membership from across various organisations and sectors. Equality is a key theme of the STEM Strategy which outlines a programme of actions for education, training and lifelong learning in Scotland to achieve our goals for STEM, including reducing equity gaps.

As part of the Strategy, it was announced on 7 June 2018 that the Improving Gender Balance Project would be extended and embedded across all schools in Scotland including early learning and child centres (ELC), primary and secondary schools. This project aims to tackle challenge unconscious assumptions around gender on subject uptake and career choice, particularly in relation to sciences, technologies, engineering and maths (STEM). To help deliver this, Education Scotland will be recruiting a dedicated team of officers to work with schools to improve gender balance and equity in STEM learning.

Image from The Everyday Heroes Participation Project

Image from The Everyday Heroes Participation Project.[11]

Our on-going work in education and employment should help us work towards shifting workplace culture and gender inequality in the work place and wider society. However, we recognise that our work in this area needs to extend challenging policies and provisions that actually put women and children at increased risk of harm.

  • Continuing to set out strong opposition to the UK Government’s policy of restricting benefits to 2 children and developing guidance for professionals who may be asked to act as third party assessors for the exemption where a child is conceived through rape.[12]

As of 6 April 2017 the UK Government introduced a cap on Child Tax Credit, Universal Credit and Income Support providing payment only for two children of a claimant. A two child limit for tax credit undoubtedly has a gendered impact as cutting support for families disproportionately affects women who are more likely to be the primary care givers or raise children alone after a relationship breakdown.

A number of exceptions to the cap are included, one of which allows women to claim for children ‘born as a result of non-consensual conception’ (the so-called ‘rape clause’).

To apply, a woman has to complete a ‘Support for a child conceived without your consent’ form ‘with the help of an approved third-party professional’. In Scotland, UK Government consider this to be either a healthcare professional (likely to be doctors, health visitors, midwives, and nurses), a registered social worker or a specialist third sector support agency, such as Rape Crisis.

Disclosure of sexual violence or coercion is extremely difficult in most circumstances but the requirement to do this to access welfare benefits may be additionally painful for survivors. To ensure that women seeking such an assessment receive the right support, the Scottish Government, with support from COSLA, drafted a guidance document for healthcare and social work staff. It contains advice on supporting people seeking assistance with the above exemption.

The guidance document has been drafted in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders and it was issued as a joint letter from the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Social Work Adviser on 12 October 2018.

The Scottish Government and COSLA continues to reiterate their strong opposition to this policy and the disproportionate impact it has on women.

Moving forward

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

These will include:

  • Working with key stakeholders under the labour market strategy to understand issues of occupational segregation to ensure greater equality within the labour market.
  • Implementing the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018 and provide guidance on the new requirements for women’s representation on public boards, making Scotland the only part of the UK to have this standard.
  • A Scottish Government response to recommendations on how to improve gender equality in Scotland from the First Minister’s National Advisory Council and give early consideration to the Advisory Council’s advice on putting in place a robust process to ensure that the next and future programmes for government are gender sensitive.
  • COSLA will continue to work to promote female representation in local decision making and representational politics.

Interventions are early and effective, preventing violence and maximising the safety and wellbeing of women, children and young people.


  • Justice responses are robust, swift, consistent and coordinated.
  • Women, children and young people access relevant, effective and integrated services.
  • Service providers competently identify violence against women and girls, and respond effectively to women, children and young people affected.

Summary of progress

We recognise the importance of ensuring that women and children are supported and that service providers identify violence against women and girls and respond effectively. A range of activity has been undertaken in the past year across Scotland to help us achieve our objectives under this priority. Much of the activity has also provided a foundation to build upon over the coming year. Actions have included:

  • Ensuring appropriate funding so that court case waiting times for criminal domestic abuse cases are in line with agreed targets.[13]

The court process can be particularly difficult for women survivors of domestic abuse. From 2015-2018, additional Scottish Government funding of £2.4 million per year was provided to Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS) and The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal (COPFS) Service to help reduce court waiting times for criminal domestic abuse cases. The vast majority of cases are now being called within 8-10 weeks of first calling. The Scottish Government have now baselined funding of £2.4 million to the Courts and Crown Office to pay for the judiciary, court staff and fiscals to ensure the efficient progress of domestic abuse cases through the court continues.

Investment of an additional £1.1 million funding (2018-19) from the Justice Budget announced in August 2018 will also allow COPFS and SCTS to allow trials involving rape to start at the earliest opportunity and to minimise the distress caused to victims. This complements work being taken forward by a multi-agency group with representation from the COPFS, Police Scotland and RCS to explore a pilot to visually record adult complainer’s initial police statements to be used in any subsequent trial. Research has been separately commissioned for the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) to build the evidence base on rape complainer’s experiences of the justice system. The project will report in spring 2019.

A new facility located in Glasgow area has received Scottish Government funding of £950,000 to upgrade the suites provided for child and other vulnerable witnesses who require to use special measures to give evidence. These new and dedicated facilities aim to significantly improve the experience of the most vulnerable witnesses in the justice system by offering non-court spaces designed and equipped to cater for different age groups with flexible layouts and break out areas. The facility will ensure a compassionate and trauma-informed service is provided with victims at the heart of the planning process. This bespoke centre will create the opportunity to greatly improve the processing of cases where special measures are required and, through building confidence, the frequency of their uptake.

In addition, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice has convened a dedicated task force to improve victims’ experiences of the justice system. Building on work taken forward by justice agencies in recent years, the task force will drive delivery of government commitments to ensure victims’ voices are heard, to streamline their journey through the criminal justice system, and to provide wide-ranging support and accessible information through the process. It will hear evidence directly from victims on their experiences of the justice system and membership will include senior decision-makers from justice agencies and voluntary sector partners, including those who directly represent victims.

The Scottish Government’s work to improve services for women and children also extends to on-going improvements in service delivery for children and adults who have experienced rape and sexual assault.

  • Considering the best model for design and delivery of forensic medical services.[14]

In March 2017, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport established a Taskforce for the improvement of services for adults and children who have experienced rape and sexual assault, under the leadership of the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Dr Catherine Calderwood. The Scottish Government commissioned Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) to develop new National Standards to ensure consistency in approach to Healthcare and Forensic Medical Services for anyone who has experienced rape or sexual assault. These standards were published in December 2017. The SG has committed £2.25m in the current financial year to support Boards to imbed the standards and make improvements to existing services.

A rigorous options appraisal exercise has been carried out to determine the optimal model and configuration of rape and sexual assault forensic medical and healthcare services in Scotland, involving a wide range of stakeholders - which was informed by the views of people with lived experience. The clear preference was for a multi-agency, co-ordinated approach to help deliver a holistic, smooth pathway and the highest quality of person centred care, treatment and support - delivered as close as possible to the point of need and supported by a dedicated Centre of Excellence. The Scottish Government are working closely with Health Boards to produce a fully costed model for the delivery of equitable and sustainable services (in line with the national HIS standards and the agreed model and configuration of services) – and to support the implementation of those plans.

The Scottish Government will consult on proposals to clarify in legislation the responsibility for forensic medical examinations to ensure that access to healthcare, as well as a forensic medical examination for victims of rape and sexual assault, is a NHS priority and consistently provided for throughout Scotland.

We have also committed to continuing work with partners such as NHS Education Scotland, to achieve a gender balance of professionals trained to undertake forensic medical examinations so that where a victim requests the specific gender of the forensic examiner involved in their care, this can be met.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland are developing quality indicators to underpin the published standards. This work should be completed by December 2018. The indicators will allow for standardised monitoring and will support on-going improvement across the country. Arrangements for future (healthcare led) audit and inspection will be put in place to ensure that performance of these services is appropriately monitored, evaluated and reported.

The Scottish Government has also recognised the benefit of mainstream, specialist and third sector services that allow for flexibility to reflect local circumstances and the Delivery Plan includes a variety of actions to help improve service delivery at a local level. Violence Against Women Partnerships (VAW Partnerships) are the multi-agency mechanism to deliver Equally Safe at a local strategic level.

  • Supporting local multi-agency Violence Against Women Partnerships (VAW Partnerships) in their improvement journey.[15]

The Scottish Government has funded the Improvement Service (IS) to provide ongoing support to all VAW Partnerships across Scotland to help ensure they have the capacity and capability to progress the priorities set out in Equally Safe at a local level. Since November 2017, the IS has provided bespoke support to local VAW Partnerships across the country in areas such strategic development, performance management, self-assessment and improvement planning. The IS has also continued to coordinate the National VAW Network, which brings together VAW Partnerships across Scotland to share information, learning and resources and ensure that a coordinated approach is taken to tackling violence against women and girls at local and national level.

To support VAW Partnerships to measure the progress being made to implement Equally Safe at a local level and identify any areas for improvement, in May 2018 the Scottish Government, COSLA and the Improvement Service published the ‘Equally Safe Quality Standards and Performance Framework’. The Quality Standards aim to raise awareness of the types of services, policies and processes that are most effective in tackling violence against women and girls and capture data on the extent to which they are currently being delivered across Scotland. The Performance Framework aims to measure the impact that these services, policies and processes are having on the lives of people and communities affected by violence against women and girls. Collectively, the two resources aim to support VAW Partnerships to capture key performance data and facilitate a consistent approach to measuring and reporting on the progress being made to achieve the ambitions set out in Equally Safe to ensure that it is delivering real change for women and children in communities across Scotland.

Following the publication of the resource, the Scottish Government and COSLA wrote to all 32 Council Leaders and Chief Executives across Scotland in May 2018 to seek their assistance in ensuring that it was implemented locally. The Equally Safe Quality Standards and Performance Data Returns for 2017/18 highlight:

  • There are strong examples of collaborative working taking place in local authority areas across Scotland, with third sector and public sector partners working together to ensure a joined-up and strategic approach is taken to improving outcomes for women and children affected by violence and abuse. There are also positive examples of VAW Partnerships strengthening their links with other local strategic partnerships with a key role to play in improving the safety and wellbeing of women and children, including Health and Social Care Partnerships, Community Justice Partnerships and Community Safety Partnerships. However, there are opportunities for local multi-agency and partnership working to be further strengthened in the years ahead and help ensure that best use is made of all available knowledge, skills and resources.
  • A significant amount of work is taking place in local authority areas across Scotland to ensure that women, children and young people affected by violence and abuse receive early and effective interventions. However, there are opportunities for local authority areas to further build on this work in the years ahead, as well as to adopt a preventative approach to tackling violence against women and girls.
  • There are currently gaps in data which limit both our understanding of the scale and prevalence of violence against women and girls in local authority areas across Scotland, and the impact that interventions are having on women and children’s levels of safety and wellbeing. However, there is a significant level of commitment amongst stakeholders to work together address these gaps.

A full report of the learning from the first year of the Equally Safe Quality Standards and Performance Framework data returns will be published in early 2019.

No single agency or organisation has the power or resources alone to achieve the ambitions and aims set out in Equally Safe. The focus on collaborative working that underpins that Strategy and the respective commitments within the Delivery Plan to strengthen multi-agency and partnership working demonstrate our recognition that it is only by working together that we can drive progress and change both at both a national and local level and achieve our overall aim of preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls.

Moving forward

We intend to build on our achievements and successes and will take forward a range of initiatives in the coming year that continue to keep survivor’s lived experience at the fore .

These will include:

  • Exploring a pilot of recording a complainer’s initial statement to the police to be used as evidence in chief in any subsequent trial.
  • Launching a consultation in November on how to improve multi-agency interventions for victims of domestic abuse who are at high risk of harm, so that they can receive better support and are kept safer.
  • Continuing to work with others, such as NHS and Education Scotland to achieve a gender balance for professionals trained to undertake forensic medical examinations so that a victim’s request for an examiner of a specific gender can be met.
  • Taking forward our work with key stakeholders to consider how the Barnahus concept for immediate trauma-informed support for child victims of serious and traumatic crimes can operate within the context of Scotland’s healthcare and criminal justice system.
  • Continued support of the RCS National Advocacy Project which support victims through the criminal justice process (£1.85m to RCS in 2015-18 and £1.7m in 2018-20).
  • Taking forward a Female Genital Mutilation Bill to strengthen the protection of women and girls from this extreme form of gender based violence.
  • Considering how support for service providers supporting harm reduction and exit for those engaged in prostitution could be enhanced and continuing to work to reduce harm and increase opportunities for women to leave prostitution, including establishing a multi-agency group to tackle the issues that can lead to someone being exploited in this way.
  • A significant focus of COSLA’s work over the next three years will be to ensure that statutory services including health, education, social work and housing are increasingly competent in identifying and responding effectively to violence against women and girls. Local authorities, Community Planning Partnerships, Health and Social Care Partnerships and Local Violence Against Women Partnerships are central to this becoming a reality

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.

Summary of progress

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:

  • Passing The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018.

Attitudes towards domestic abuse are undoubtedly changing and the passing of this legislation marks a watershed moment in which the destructive impact of coercive and controlling behaviour is recognised by the law. The Act creates a specific offence of domestic abuse that will cover not only physical abuse, but other forms of psychological abuse that may be difficult to prosecute under the existing law, and recognises domestic abuse is experienced by victims as an ongoing course of conduct, and not simply a series of isolated instances of, for example, assault or threatening behaviour. This new offence is an important step towards increasing awareness for victims who do not realise they are victims of domestic abuse. It provides a clarity for women and girls who can now explicitly see that was their partner/ex-partner has done (or is doing) is wrong, will not be tolerated and can be dealt with under the law.

Safelives are working collaborative with Police Scotland to deliver ‘Domestic Abuse Matters Scotland’ in preparation of the implementation of the Act. This programme will allow 14,000 officers and staff to be trained in identifying controlling and coercive behaviour.

Our activity in this area is not solely limited to making improvements in the law, but we have also recognised the importance of holding perpetrators to account and working with them to help change their behaviour.

  • Expanding the innovative Caledonian Programme.[16]

The Caledonian System works with men convicted of domestic abuse related offences to help them recognise and take responsibility for their abuse, and to help reduce their reoffending.

In April, the Scottish Government announced additional funding from Violence Against Women and Girls Justice budget of £2.8 million over two years (2018-20) to expand the Caledonian Programme.

Local Authorities not currently delivering Caledonian were invited to bid for this funding to support the roll-out of Caledonian System within their area. Successful bidders have now been announced and 19 Local Authorities now benefit from Caledonian.

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:

  • Running a campaign to raise awareness of coercive control and domestic abuse to coincide with the implementation of the Act which we anticipate will come into force in early 2019. The Scottish Government will engage with key stakeholders as the campaign is developed.
  • Developing multi-agency domestic homicide reviews with Police Scotland and partners learning from practice from other jurisdictions.
  • Consulting during 2018 on further protections for those at risk of domestic abuse through new protective orders
  • Considering responses to the current consultation on the terms of the child cruelty and neglect offence contained in the Children and Young Persons Act 1937, including proposals for the law to be modernised to include emotional abuse.
  • Introducing to Parliament a Family Law Bill, including proposed measures to further ensure that the child’s best interest is at the centre of any contact and residence cases; that cases are dealt with effectively and efficiently by the courts; and to further protect domestic abuse victims in such cases.


Email: Kirstin McPhee

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