Domestic Abuse Matters Scotland

SafeLives are pleased to have been able to work collaboratively with Police Scotland to deliver Domestic Abuse (DA) Matters Scotland, supporting the implementation of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018.  

What is DA Matters Scotland?

DA Matters Scotland is a change programme that has allowed us to train nearly 14,000 officers and staff 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, and in particular, coercive control.

DA Matters Scotland builds on the successful delivery of our DA Matters programme in England and Wales. It is bespoke to the unique needs of Scotland, in particular around the introduction of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act in April 2019.

We worked collaboratively with Police Scotland and our partners ASSISTthe Caledonian SystemSacro and Scottish Borders Safer Communities team to develop common understanding and awareness around the dynamics of abuse, coercive control and the tactics used by perpetrators.

    Of victims who access specialist support:

  • 68%

    disclose controlling behaviour

  • 56%

    disclose physical harm

The police play a vital role in the response to domestic abuse – protecting victims and children and holding perpetrators to account.

We need training for Police Scotland that is bespoke to the unique needs of Scotland, in particular around the new legislation and the operational application of it.

Having a better understanding of coercive behaviour will help me look for the tell-tale signs, and I will adapt my questions/conversation with victim to help identify possible coercive behaviour. I will be more open to looking at the bigger picture and to try to identify ongoing abuse instead of just dealing with one incident.

Police officer

I was initially resistant and didn’t want to go on DAMS (Domestic Abuse Matters Scotland responders training) but it has been the most valuable training I've been on in my 29 years of service. I have since told the other sergeants in the station to keep an open mind and that they'll enjoy it too.

Police officer

The format of DA Matters

DA Matters is firmly rooted in a gendered analysis of domestic abuse and represents the experiences of women, children, men, LGBT+ people and Black, Asian, and racially minoritised communities. It also includes analyses of the tactics perpetrators use to manipulate victims and responders, as well as the impact of domestic abuse and coercive control on the whole family.

There are two different training sessions: one for first responders and one for newly appointed Domestic Abuse (DA) Champions.

Our first responders training was delivered to over 14,000 officers and staff, representing a significant percentage of Police Scotland personnel. This included those who have contact with adult and child victims and perpetrators, front counter personnel, staff who take emergency and non-emergency calls from the public and control room staff.

We went on to train a further 700 officers and staff to become DA Champions, embedding practice and attitudinal change long term, in addition to the below:

  • several lead-in and follow-up tasks to guide the content, sustaining the change into the future
  • an interactive e-learning package designed to inform every police officer and member of police staff in Scotland about the legislation change and what it means to them
  • training to the Strategic Leadership Board, executive level officers and staff to consolidate the messages at the highest level

Looking ahead

Between 2021 and 2022 SafeLives continue to work with Police Scotland to develop an interactive eLearning package for the Domestic Abuse Champions network. The eLearning will develop Champions’ knowledge on the different experiences of domestic abuse, how to safely respond and sustain the culture change.

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SafeLives aim to end domestic abuse, for everyone and for good. Domestic Abuse (DA) Matters is a bespoke cultural change programme for police officers and staff across the UK.
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Domestic Abuse Matters

Our Domestic Abuse (DA) Matters is a bespoke cultural change programme for police officers and staff in England and Wales, designed to transform the response to domestic abuse.

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