A ground-breaking initiative to combat domestic abuse is to be expanded around the country to help maximise victims’ safety and hold offenders to account for their violence.
£2.8 million will be available for local authorities to apply for support to roll out the Caledonian System within their area to enable more perpetrators to address their behaviour
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.
The announcement was made by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson while attending training for social workers who work with male offenders and liaise with the women and children’s services for the programme. He said:
“Levels of domestic abuse remain at unacceptably high levels in Scotland. 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. 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.
“The funding I am announcing today will further strengthen our push to eradicate this scourge on society. Domestic abuse offenders need to understand the harm they cause and what they can do to change their behaviour.”
Linda Rodgers, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Women’s Aid said:
“It is crucial that we have a range of services across Scotland for those affected by domestic abuse and that these services include interventions to support perpetrators to change their behaviour. The Caledonian Programme is a safe and robust perpetrator programme developed in Scotland for the Scottish context.
“I am absolutely delighted that the programme will now be operating and enhancing the safety of women and children across Scotland.”
The Caledonian System 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.
The overall funding to the local authorities that deliver the Men’s Programme currently is approximately £1.3 million per annum, with approximately £1.1 million distributed to local authorities and SACRO to deliver Women’s and Children’s Services.
An evaluation of the Caledonian System was published in November 2016. Based on the most recent figures, more than 450 men are 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.
The safety of partners and their children is an absolute priority for the Caledonian System. There was a strong belief among women interviewed for the evaluation that the Women’s Service, and the fact that it works together with the Men’s Programme as a system, had both contributed significantly to making them safer.
Evidence 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. More information on the Caledonian System is available on the Scottish Government website.