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17 April 2018, 11:59
A scheme aimed at tackling domestic abuse by encouraging perpetrators to change their behaviour is to be expanded across Scotland.
Local authorities will be able to use £2.8 million of funding to roll out the Caledonian System within their area.
The initiative, which offers an alternative to prison, is currently delivered through hubs in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Dumfries and Galloway and North Ayrshire councils.
More than 1,200 men have participated since 2011.
The programme aims to address the violent behaviour of abusers and improve the lives of the women and children affected.
It is not an alternative to prosecution and if at any point the programme is breached by the perpetrator, their case is returned to court for consideration of whether a separate sentence should be imposed.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: "Levels of domestic abuse remain at unacceptably high levels in Scotland.
"We know that the official statistics still do not paint the whole picture as victims are often too afraid to report abuse. We also know domestic abuse disproportionately affects women, with men as the primary perpetrators.
"Put simply, attitudes need to change. The Caledonian System has been running in parts of Scotland and the evidence indicates that men who completed the programme posed a lower risk to partners, children and others by the end of the programme. Women also reported that they felt safer.
"The funding I am announcing today will further strengthen our push to eradicate this scourge on society."
Linda Rodgers, chief executive of Edinburgh Women's Aid, said: "It is crucial that we have a range of services across Scotland for those affected by domestic abuse and that these services include interventions to support perpetrators to change their behaviour.
"The Caledonian Programme is a safe and robust perpetrator programme developed in Scotland for the Scottish context.
"I am absolutely delighted that the programme will now be operating and enhancing the safety of women and children across Scotland."