Domestic Abuse Matters Scotland evaluation shows major shift in policing nationwide regarding domestic abuse

8th September 2020

Major shift achieved in policing nationwide regarding domestic abuse 

Domestic Abuse Matters Scotland is an awareness raising and cultural change programme for Police Scotland – providing practical awareness of the new Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018. It offers long term attitudinal and behavioural change by helping the police understand what is meant by the term ‘coercive control’ and the specific manifestations and impacts of it.  

Thanks to funding from the Scottish Government, and working closely with Police Scotland as well as the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and our partners ASSIST, the Caledonian System, Sacro (FearFree) and Safer Borders, 18,500 officers and staff have now completed our e-learning and nearly 14,000 have attended our face to face training. The programme was delivered using a dual-trainer model, with every session delivered by a trainer with a police background alongside a domestic abuse specialist. From the executive team and frontline officers, to control room staff and Special Constables, a huge range of police staff and officers have engaged in the training.  

We’re delighted that the evaluation results released today show that after the training, 95% of participants had a strong understanding of the tactics perpetrators use to coercively control victims, and 94% have a strong understanding of the stages of coercive controlling behaviour. The training is also helping officers see the impact domestic abuse has on the whole family – with 94% of participants saying that the training helped them understand the impact of domestic abuse and coercive control on children.  

Suzanne Jacob, OBE, Chief Executive of SafeLives, said:  

“The DA Matters Scotland training came at a crucial time, to support the introduction of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, which made coercive control a criminal offence for the first time in Scotland. It is testament to the many survivors who helped create the programme, the partnership with Police Scotland, and the dedication and commitment of trainers, that 85% of participants said they now have strong understanding of the new legislation.  

“The results are incredibly positive, but this is just the start. Domestic Abuse Matters Scotland is not just a training course. It is a long-term programme of culture and behaviour change. We must take the learning forward, which is why we’re proud to have also trained over 700 Police Scotland Champions who will sustain the change in skills, behaviour and attitudes through continued support and development. 

“The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act and the completion of our Domestic Abuse Matters Scotland programme puts the police in good stead to protect victims across Scotland. But we won’t stop there. It’s vital we continue working together – with determination and a commitment to ensuring victims of domestic abuse, across the whole family, get the support they need to become safe and well.”  

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf said:

“It is essential that anyone suffering domestic abuse has the confidence and the knowledge to come forward and Police Scotland has been critical to the success of the new laws in the first 18 months. I know that this shouldn’t be taken for granted and I am very pleased to see the very positive impact that the SafeLives DA Matters Training has had – drawn from a collaborative approach across the justice system and third sector including ASSIST, the Caledonian System, SACRO (Fearfree) and Safer Borders.

“The 2018 Act has been a landmark piece of legislation to tackle domestic abuse, recognising the devastating impact of coercive and controlling behaviour on survivors and their loved ones and enabling Scotland justice system to hold perpetrators to account. This is the first UK legislation to contain a specific statutory sentencing aggravation to reflect the harm that can be caused to children growing up in an environment where domestic abuse takes place.

“This was a reflection of the sad reality that domestic abuse pervades society. All of us have a role in ridding our communities of this crime and stopping the harm it causes so many.”

Read the evaluation report 

Find out more about Domestic Abuse Matters Scotland 

For more information and interviews, contact Natalie Mantle, at natalie.mantle@safelives.org.uk or 07394560466.


Notes to editor

About SafeLives

We are SafeLives, the UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for everyone and for good.  

We work with organisations across the UK to transform the response to domestic abuse. We want what you would want for your best friend. We listen to survivors, putting their voices at the heart of our thinking. We look at the whole picture for each individual and family to get the right help at the right time to make families everywhere safe and well. And we challenge perpetrators to change, asking ‘why doesn’t he stop?’ rather than ‘why doesn’t she leave?’ This applies whatever the gender of the victim or perpetrator and whatever the nature of their relationship.  

Last year alone, nearly 11,000 professionals working on the frontline received our training. Over 65,000 adults at risk of serious harm or murder and more than 85,000 children received support through dedicated multi-agency support designed by us and delivered with partners. In the last three years, over 1,000 perpetrators have been challenged and supported to change by interventions we created with partners, and that’s just the start.  

Together we can end domestic abuse. Forever. For everyone.