Foreword – Christina McKelvie, Minister for Older People and Equalities
Violence against women and girls, in any form, has no place in our vision for a safe, strong, successful Scotland. It damages health and wellbeing, limits freedom and potential, and is a violation of the most fundamental human rights. Domestic abuse is one of the many forms of ways this violence manifests.
The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 has created a new criminal offence of domestic abuse. This is a key part of our response to the issue of domestic abuse and will help empower our justice partners with the powers they need to tackle perpetrators.
Overseeing this work, Equally Safe is Scotland's strategy to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls, developed jointly with CoSLA and in association with a wide range of partners from public and third sector organisations. Its delivery plan sets out a number of actions to improve the service response for survivors of domestic abuse. This consultation is one of those actions.
Over the years it has become increasingly clear that effective responses to domestic abuse require a consistent multi-agency approach, and Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) are one factor in helping to ensure that this is delivered. MARACs can ensure that individuals at greatest risk from domestic abuse are supported through safe, relevant and proportionate information sharing, and the development of an effective multi-agency action plan to increase their safety.
Since MARACs first came into being in 2005 they have continued to evolve and are now a well-recognised feature of the multi-agency response to domestic abuse. They are operating in a number of Local Authority areas across Scotland..
A proper multi-agency focus recognises that many factors are at play in cases of domestic abuse and that the effective sharing of information about individuals is vital to identify and mitigate risk of serious harm through robust safety plans and meet the objective of increasing the safety and well-being of those affected and that they contribute to improving agency accountability.
In seeking your views on strengthening multi-agency risk assessment and intervention for victims of domestic abuse, we want to ensure that thinking on how we can best do this is informed by the best possible evidence. We intend to achieve this by gathering the views of those who are directly involved in protecting people at high risk of violence and who are working in partnership with others to ensure that interventions are early and effective.
Embedding accountability, effective multi-agency working and appropriate information sharing through genuinely collaborative partnership working will ensure our collective approach works to keep all those who are affected by domestic abuse safe and protected from those who choose to harm them.
Minister for Older People and Equalities
Email: Leonie Stone