A landmark moment for Scotland: SafeLives charity welcomes the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act – but highlights the importance of high quality training to grow understanding.

1st April 2019

SafeLives is delighted to see the introduction of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act – which makes coercive control illegal in Scotland for the first time – and to be supporting Police Scotland in helping police understand the dynamics of domestic abuse.

Our Whole Lives research found that over 130,000 people in Scotland experience domestic abuse each year. Almost one in five women in Scotland will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.

And of those victims who access specialist domestic abuse support, 68% disclose they have experienced controlling behaviour.

Lucy McDonald, SafeLives Programme Lead for Scotland, said: ‘We welcome the new Act so the true extent of the fear and control endured by victims of abuse in Scotland can now be addressed in law. However, legislation is only part of the answer. It must be backed up by quality, effective training to help police and other professionals understand the dynamics of abuse and the tactics used by perpetrators. This is a landmark moment for Scotland. It can save the lives of thousands of people, but it will only be a success if we work together.’

‘Coercive control involves deliberate tactics used to isolate, undermine, threaten and degrade. These tactics can be subtle and hard to spot, but slowly build up over time leaving a devastating impact on adult victims and their children well into the future, long after any physical injury may have healed. Despite expert knowledge on the ground by specialist staff, until now these behaviours have had very limited visibility in the criminal justice system, with most offences centred on physical violence. We want more people to understand how these psychological tactics work.’

We’re pleased to be working closely with Police Scotland and our partners ASSIST, the Caledonian System, Sacro (Fearless) and Scottish Borders Safer Communities team to deliver DA Matters Scotland – a change programme for police across the country. This is more than just training; the collaborative  approach makes it unique, and its ambition is nothing less than long term cultural change.




Notes to editors

For interviews or more information, please contact Ruth Davies, Communications Officer: 0117 403 3233 or 07394 560 467, ruth.davies@safelives.org.uk

About SafeLives: SafeLives is a UK charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insights from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. Last year alone, over 60,000 adults and 100,000 children received dedicated support from interventions we have designed with partners in the sector.

Domestic abuse affects us all; it thrives on being hidden behind closed doors. We must make it everybody’s business.

About DA Matters Scotland: DA Matters Scotland is a change programme that will train over 14,000 Police Scotland officers and staff, across every level, in identifying controlling and coercive behaviour. The programme was written and developed by SafeLives and the College of Policing in response to HMIC findings around police officers’ understanding of domestic abuse. DA Matters Scotland builds on the successful delivery of SafeLives’ DA Matters programme in England and Wales where we have successfully trained 11 police forces, with three more signed up to the programme.

DA Matters Scotland has been adapted to meet the unique needs of Scotland, in particular around the introduction of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act. SafeLives worked closely with Police Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Government and a range of DA services across Scotland to create a programme that carefully reflects the context in Scotland

SafeLives are working collaboratively with Police Scotland and our partners ASSIST, The Caledonian System, Sacro and Scottish Borders Safer Communities team.