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New Measures to Combat Domestic Abuse

The Scottish Government recently announced that an initiative to combat domestic abuse is to be made available to local authorities across the country. 

The Caledonian System

The Caledonian System is a specialist court-mandated programme working with male perpetrators, which also aims to improve the lives of women and children affected.

It is not an alternative to prosecution but is a direct alternative to custody and to other high tariff community disposals given after an accused has been convicted of a domestic abuse related offence. If at any point the programme is breached by the perpetrator the case is returned to court for consideration of whether a separate sentence should be imposed.

It is currently delivered through hubs in Aberdeen City, City of Edinburgh, Falkirk, Dumfries & Galloway and North Ayrshire Councils. However, the Government has now announced that additional funding of £2.8 million will be made available that local authorities can apply to for support to roll out the Caledonian System within their area.

Changing Attitudes to Domestic Abuse

“Levels of domestic abuse remain at unacceptably high levels in Scotland,” commented Justice Secretary Michael Matheson. “We know that the official statistics still do not paint the whole picture, as victims are often too afraid to report abuse. We also know domestic abuse disproportionately affects women, with men as the primary perpetrators.”

“Put simply, attitudes need to change,” he added. “The Caledonian System has been running in parts of Scotland and the evidence indicates that men who completed the programme posed a lower risk to partners, children and others by the end of the programme. Women also reported that they felt safer.”

An evaluation of the Caledonian System was published in November 2016, which revealed that more than 450 men were engaged with the Men’s Programme, with over 1200 having participated since 2011. There have been 1230 women offered access to the Women’s Service in that same timescale, with over 720 currently engaging, and 1040 children known to the Children’s Service.

Evidence apparently indicates that men who completed the programme posed a lower risk to partners, children and others by the end of the programme. There is also evidence that women engaged with the programme feel safer.

Other Domestic Abuse Developments

The latest figures from Scotland’s Chief Statistician show that the number of convictions with a domestic abuse aggravator attached fell by 12% in 2016-17 to 10,830, which is the second consecutive year of decline following increases seen over the previous four years.

Earlier this year the Scottish Parliament passed the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill, which contains provisions to make psychological abuse and coercive control in the home a criminal offence.

As well as physical abuse, the legislation will cover other forms of psychological abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour that cannot easily be prosecuted under existing criminal laws.

It will be possible to prosecute abuse in its totality as a single offence, allowing courts to consider the whole course of abuse and sentence perpetrators accordingly.

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If you have been charged with a criminal offence, including domestic abuse offences, then contact our specialist criminal defence solicitors today.

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