Equally Safe Joint Strategic Board minutes: May 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 4 May 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Siobhian Brown, Minister for Victims and Community Safety, Scottish Government (SG)
  • Maureen Chalmers, Community Safety and Wellbeing Spokesperson, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Mariam Ahmed, Third Sector Specialist, AMINA Muslim Women’s Resource Centre
  • Sandy Brindley, Third Sector Specialist, Rape Crisis Scotland
  • Lucy Denvir, Public Health, NHS Scotland
  • Eddie Doherty,  Health, NHS Boards
  • Samantha Faulds, Police Scotland
  • Cat Kirkpatrick, Third Sector Specialist, Engender
  • Joanna MacDonald, Social Care, SG (attending on behalf of Iona Colvin)
  • Karyn McCluskey, Justice, Community Justice Scotland
  • Kelly McIntosh, Education, Association of Directors of Education Scotland
  • Jo McLaughlin, Third Sector Specialist, Improvement Service
  • Anna Mitchell, Third Sector Specialist, Safe and Together
  • Moira Price, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service


  • Marsha Scott, Third Sector Specialist, Scottish Women’s Aid
  • Katie Kelly, Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers, SOLACE
  • Karen Allan, Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers

Official support

  • Katie Brown, Equally Safe Policy Manager, COSLA
  • Jane Gallacher, Equality Violence against Women and Girls Policy Manager, SG
  • Saira Kapasi, Justice Violence Against Women and Girls Unit Team Leader, SG
  • Catherine McMeeken, Deputy Director for Equality, SG
  • Nel Whiting, Equality Violence against Women and Girls Team Leader, SG
  • Niall Wood, Equality Violence Against Women and Girls Policy Officer, SG

Items and actions

Introductions and welcome

Minister for Victims and Community Safety, Siobhian Brown MSP, and COSLA Wellbeing Spokesperson, Cllr Maureen Chalmers, welcomed all board members in attendance and reconfirmed the Scottish Government and COSLA commitment to addressing violence against women through the Equally Safe strategy.

Terms of reference for Joint Strategic Board (JSB)

There was a discussion on JSB membership and the need for addition of representation from children and young people’s, commercial sexual exploitation and representation of young people via Scottish Youth Parliament.

JSB members were invited to provide final comment on the Terms of Reference for the JSB.

Proposed change:

To remove the words “and accountability” from the first bullet point under the heading of “Remit”, on the basis that individual members will not be accountable for implementation of the ES strategy. Accepted and TOR signed off;

JSB members were invited to give comment on previous minutes, recognising that these relate to a meeting last year and that some members were not in attendance at that time.

Comment made:

The point was raised that there are currently gaps within data sets on sexual offences;

Board members were asked to consider whether they considered publishing of JSB minutes would be valuable, adding to the transparency of governance for Equally Safe at work progresses into a new phase. 

All members present agreed.

Scope of Equally Safe refresh 

Members were asked to take part in an interactive session with discussion around the following questions:

Q. What does an increased focus on primary prevention within the Equally Safe strategy look like?

Members discussed the need to ensure that system change is at the heart of Equally Safe and that the gender inequality that facilitates or acts as a driver for violence against women and girls, are acknowledged.  

The importance of the education in informing young people (particularly men and boys), about healthy behaviour and relationships. This discussion took account of the capacity of schools to undertake such work and the constantly changing nature of misogynist material being viewed by boys and girls and the different impact online. The need for an established approach to tackle online misogyny was also discussed, in recognition of the increase in use of digital technologies, creating a space for facilitating violence against women and girls. 

Q. What does ensuring the needs of ethnic minority women are effectively embedded in the strategy look like?

The issue of extended family abuse was raised - by extending of the definition of domestic abuse to include extended family, it better reflects the experiences of minority ethnic women and girls. Scottish Government officials committed to engage with members further on this matter.

It was also highlighted that the specific data on minority women in relation to gender-based violence is currently inadequate, and that the previous approach of using data from the UK wide sources is not suitable. As such, more Scottish specific data is required.

Q. Gaps/other issues for consideration?

The role of consulates was highlighted, especially in relation to Polish migrants and Ukrainian refugees, and the role they can play in helping vulnerable women within these communities.

Police Scotland as a key stakeholder will be key partners to Equally Safe, as they have undertaken work to better understand the issue of gender-based violence. Police Scotland will work on understanding their own societal impact which may also be a useful resource when consulting. 

Engagement approach

It was raised that it would be important to ensure that engagement around the Equally Safe Strategy refresh builds on what is known rather than go over old ground so as to be ethical and not to increase engagement fatigue.  

JSB members highlighted that there were pieces of work organisations were already doing, for example Public Health Scotland research on minority ethnic women, and the recent SCLD report, which would provide useful information and discussion points throughout the engagement process.

There was discussion around ensuring that a broad range of stakeholders were part of the engagement plan around the refresh across various policy areas but that we should look to ensure that children and young people and survivors were part of that process.

Next steps and concluding remarks

Cllr Chalmers thanked all attendees for their input which COSLA and Scottish Government officials will feed into the planning process for the Equally Safe refresh.


  • SG officials to update and recirculate JSB Terms of Reference
  • SG officials to follow up on what data sets on sexual offences exist and where the gaps are
  • SG officials to ensure Joint Strategic Board minutes are made available online
  • SG officials to synthesize the themes of the discussion and add to those surfaced by previous engagement (the summit and spotlight sessions during 16 days) and use in future engagement
  • SG officials to further work on the engagement plan stakeholder list and be specific around activity across the engagement phases throughout the year
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