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Community / Police to train domestic abuse ‘champion’

POLICE in Shetland are to train a sexual violence and domestic abuse “champion” as a new law broadening the scope of gender based abuse comes in at the beginning of April.

Every police officer in Shetland will also have at least one day’s training in abuse issues and the champion will be there as an expert in the field who other police can call upon, chief inspector Lindsay Tulloch told a council board on Thursday.

The Domestic Abuse Act will for the first time outlaw “coercive and controlling behaviour” and has a special focus on protecting children.

Tulloch paid tribute to the work of Dr Susan Laidlaw in drawing up the Shetland Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Strategya document that has been widely circulated in health and council forums and that addresses many of the same issues as the abuse act.

The report states: “The overarching aim of this strategy is to reduce the number of children, young people and adults affected by gender based violence, particularly domestic abuse and sexual violence, and to minimise the consequences.”

Vice chairman of the community safety and resilience board Allison Duncan said that it was “good to see this report coming forward like this” and that the legislation was taking a “far more stringent approach” to the issue.

Chairman of the boardAlastair Cooper questioned what lay at the root of domestic abuse in Shetland and suspected that alcohol often played a part in violent incidents.

That view was confirmed by Tulloch who added that “underlying problems” were often involved in anyone committing violent acts.

Cooper drew a comparison with Shetland Islands Council’s anti-bullying strategy but was frustrated to learn that there were no figures to show if the strategy had been successful, as it still had not time to “bed in”.

Tulloch said later: “Every police officer here in Shetland will receive a day’s training in relation to the new domestic abuse legislation that’s coming into power in 2019.

“We want to identify a specific officer to have that specialist knowledge, so that other officers can tap into that and provide victims of these types of crimes with the best support that they can get.

“I would hope to see the victims of these types of crimes coming forward and reporting it, an increase in the number of people confident in reporting it, knowing that the legislation is in place enabling us to bring the perpetrators to justice.”