Abuse victims lose out on moves to tackle problem

Victims of domestic abuse in Moray will lose out on an innovative programme to tackle the problem, it emerged yesterday.

It has not been chosen to pilot the scheme, despite a reported steep rise locally in violence towards women.

The Caledonian System involves an intervention scheme to prevent domestic abuse.

Convicted abusers will be given the chance to address their behaviour, while extra support will be provided to their victims.

The programme is “an integrated approach to address men’s domestic abuse and improve the lives of women, children and men”, according to the Scottish Government’s website.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill announced plans for the £2.4million project at a social work conference at Crieff, last October.

It was indicated at the time that the project would be extended throughout Scotland, but yesterday it was revealed it would be applied selectively.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said yesterday the scheme was expected to begin “towards the end of 2010, after various preparatory measures are completed”.

He insisted there had been no delay in the roll-out of the scheme, despite earlier promises that it would be in place by the start of the year.

There will be four community justice authorities (CJAs), consisting of several council areas grouped together, which have been selected as the most prepared to deliver the Caledonian System effectively. These are Fife and Forth Valley, Lothian and Borders, south-west and north.

The north authority covers Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils, but not Moray.

Rory Macrae, a criminal justice social worker in Edinburgh, took part in the trial scheme in 2008, conducted by Edinburgh City Council in partnership with local authorities in the Borders, East Lothian, West Lothian and Midlothian.

He said the programme allowed men to confront the issues that provoke their abusive behaviour.

Mr Macrae added: “The traditional approaches have not had sufficient focus on the perpetrator. This programme expects him to change rather than expecting the woman to change. We hold him responsible and show him that he is in control.

“Most of the men I have worked with are not happy with their behaviour and do actually want to change.”

Elle Johnston, service manager for Women’s Aid in Moray, said the number of local women calling or being referred to the service significantly increased last year.

She said: “In 2009, we received 650 calls from women suffering from domestic abuse, which was nearly 200 more than the year before.”

Moray Council refused to comment on the matter last night.