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How vital domestic abuse work has continued during the pandemic (2/2)

BLOGS | 17th December 2020

In the second part of our #TalkingJustice blog series on the Caledonian System, national trainer and advisor Gill McKinna explains how the team has adapted to the pandemic

Working with men who abuse their partners is fundamental in keeping women and children safe.

Restrictions around the pandemic have made intervention work especially challenging in this area – but it’s been vital that this important work continues.

During this time we have had to pay special consideration to the safety and wellbeing of women, children, men and workers involved in this area whether the work has been continuing face to face or over the phone.

The Central Caledonian team in Community Justice Scotland train staff in local authorities to deliver the Caledonian System. It’s an integrated response to domestic abuse working to assist men to change their abusive behaviour while also offering separate support to women and children.

Usually all of our training is delivered face-to-face however as a result of the restrictions, we have had to adapt what we do. We have been able to continue offering training to staff via online training days and support sessions, with some face-to-face training continuing in small numbers.

We have also published numerous documents offering guidance and support to workers within the system on how to continue delivering the work in a safe manner whilst managing restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic. The guidance and training sessions have also had a focus on worker safety and wellbeing during the pandemic.

Men who have been convicted of domestic abuse offences are referred to the programme either as part of a supervision requirement on a Community Payback Order or Licence conditions when released from custody. In certain areas of the country men can also self-refer to the programme without going through the court process.
But in most cases men join the programme after they’ve been through the Court process.

There have been delays in the court system due to the pandemic so we’re expecting there will be a spike in numbers being referred to the programme over the next few months.

We take a gendered approach to practice and work with men who are abusive to female partners in heterosexual relationships.

The programme helps men understand any attitudes and beliefs they have developed that prevent or get in the way of them being safe and caring partners.

In the men’s programme there are three components – individual sessions, group work and maintenance sessions. We have also been successful in recently getting a 1:1 version of the programme accredited by The Scottish Advisory Panel on Offender Rehabilitation (SAPOR). This means that if groups are unable to meet, the work can continue on an individual basis whilst restrictions are in place.

It’s vital this work continues to help keep women and their children safe and to improve the wellbeing of women, children and men. Helping men to change their abusive behaviour is key to making this happen.

However this work would not be possible without the committed workers that we have within the system and it is important that we also ensure that we keep the professionals who are working in this area safe and focus on their wellbeing too.

Our Talking Justice blog series brings together reflections from across our society. We are committed to changing the conversation about justice, increasing understanding and support for what will make Scotland better for all of us. To that end, we have have created a resource that maps out the Scottish justice system. This has been developed into an interactive digital tool: Navigating Scotland’s Justice System.