£2.8m boost for domestic abuse jail alternative scheme

A domestic abuse scheme which offers an alternative to jail for offenders is to be expanded across the country after £2.8 million of fresh funding was unveiled by the Scottish Government.

Domestic abuse levels are 'unacceptably high'
Domestic abuse levels are 'unacceptably high'

The Caledonian System is focussed on encouraging largely male perpetrators to face up to their abuse in two-year programme, as well as taking responsibility for their actions and their relationship with their partners and children. It runs in tandem with a Women’s programme which provides support services for partners and children affected.

Women victims have said the twin-pronged approach makes them feel safer, with evidence indicating that men who completed the programme pose a lower risk of reoffending.

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Justice secretary Michael Matheson 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.

“The funding I am announcing today will further strengthen our push to eradicate this scourge on society.”

The initiative is currently delivered through hubs in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Dumfries and Galloway and North Ayrshire councils. More than 1,200 men have participated since 2011.

It is not an alternative to prosecution and if the programme is breached by the offender, their case is returned to court where they could then face jail.

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.”