Extra £2.8m for domestic abuser rehabilitation scheme

domestic abuse generic Image copyright Laura Dodsworth

Investment in an initiative aimed at changing the behaviour of domestic abusers is set to triple in an effort to get more councils to sign up.

The Caledonian system is a two-year programme working with male perpetrators.

More than 1,200 men have participated since 2011.

The Scottish government says domestic abuse levels remain "unacceptably high" and it has announced an extra £2.8m for the scheme.

The Caledonian System offers an alternative to jail.

Following a conviction, a domestic abuser can be enrolled on the programme which aims to address their violent behaviour and improve the lives of the women and children affected.

It is not an alternative to prosecution and 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.

'Safe and robust programme'

Scotland's Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said there was evidence to suggest those who have completed the programme pose a lower risk. However, it is only available in certain areas.

Mr 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 disproportionally 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."

The initiative is currently delivered through hubs in Aberdeen City, City of Edinburgh, Falkirk, Dumfries and Galloway and the North Ayrshire council areas.

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.

"It has been in operation in Edinburgh for a number of years, working closely with survivors organisations and non-court mandated perpetrator programmes. I am absolutely delighted that the programme will now be operating and enhancing the safety of women and children across Scotland."

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