Call for views in final weeks of domestic abuse consultation

Social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has called for views on proposals which aim to ensure people at high risk of harm through domestic abuse are better protected and provided with quicker support.

A public consultation is looking at the way that police, local authorities, health and social care, the third sector and other relevant organisations work together to assess the risk of the most serious levels of harm.

Shirley-Anne Somerville

The way this is tackled varies across Scotland. This consultation will identify best practice that can be shared and if there is a need for a more consistent approach.

The consultation closes at the start of April. Ahead of this, Ms Somerville visited Stornoway to meet Women’s Aid Western Isles and people who use this service.

Ms Somerville said: “The level of protection for people against serious harm in their own homes shouldn’t be dependent on their post code. Domestic abuse can rob victims of their confidence, self-esteem, their home and – in the most extreme cases – their lives.

“Having heard about the fear people facing abuse experience, it emphasises the important role the public sector and support services play in identifying it and intervening.

“We know local factors, such as those living in a rural location, can present unique challenges and potentially greater barriers in terms of safety. However, I believe there will be good practice across the country that can be adopted to ensure we have a consistent approach to keeping vulnerable people safe.”

Mary Kettings from Women’s Aid Western Isles has already provided a response to the consultation and would like to encourage others to do the same.

Ms Kettings said: “Partnership working is pivotal when delivering frontline services across remote and rural areas.

“Through the consultation, we would hope to see National Standards being introduced by the Scottish Government to minimise the post code lottery effect for the women and children that we support in the Western Isles, and reduce variances in service responses throughout Scotland for families who experience abuse in their lives.”

The consultation improving multi-agency risk assessment and interventions for victims of domestic abuse opened on November 30 and closes on April 1.

A related consultation also underway is on protective orders for people at risk of domestic abuse.

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