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Moray police in 16 Days of Action against gender-based violence

By Lorna Thompson

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POLICE in Moray are taking part in the nationwide 16 Days of Action campaign launched last week which aims to eradicate gender-based violence.

Police Scotland say gender-based violence is under-reported. The force is working with partners at various events across the country until December 10 to raise awareness and encourage anyone who feels they’ve been a victim or knows of a victim to report incidents to police.

The multi-agency campaign highlights the connection between human rights and domestic violence.

Elgin-based Inspector Neil Campbell said dealing with domestic violence was daily business for the community policing team, who are the first responders in domestic violence reports.

Insp Campbell said: "We deal with domestic abuse on a daily basis. Domestic abuse is given a high priority across the division and across the whole of Scotland. It's reviewed and actioned every day.

"We're victim-focused and work as part of a multi-agency approach, linking with Moray Council, Moray Women's Aid, and Moray Drugs and Alcohol team to tackle domestic abuse.

"It's a long, drawn-out process. When we arrive at a scene we have a victim to deal with – it's not just a case of standing there speaking to the victim. It's taking a statement, it's ensuring their safety, giving them a safety plan and advice, linking in with partner agencies, making sure that we have an absolute wraparound approach so they are safe and supported. Then we have the actual inquiry aspect – the suspect to apprehend, bringing that person into custody, risk assessments. Then a police report has to be submitted to the fiscal and we'll get requests for statements. The fiscal might require further inquiries.

"A fair amount of our time is spent dealing with domestic abuse."

Police Scotland put the figure at 20 per cent, consistent across area divisions.

Inspector Neil Campbell (left) and Sergeant Phil Wu. Picture: Eric Cormack.
Inspector Neil Campbell (left) and Sergeant Phil Wu. Picture: Eric Cormack.

Elgin-based Sergeant Phil Wu said: "There's a lot of safety planning around the victim. That's quite an extensive aspect that we deal with now to ensure that we can effectively manage the risk each victim faces – which can be different from case to case. We have various things that we can try but sometimes they're not appropriate for a certain person or their circumstances. We do what we can to try to manage that risk."

Insp Campbell gave a snapshot of Elgin-based officers' daily workload in relation to domestic violence. On Wednesday last week local officers were dealing with a person wanted for breaching a community payback order, two suspects wanted in relation to communications offences, one suspect wanted in relation to a number of historical assaults, and a number of perpetrator bail checks.

Sgt Wu added: "The inquiries today give a good snapshot of different stages in the processes, from an initial complaint and investigation to cases nearing the end where a sentence has been imposedand there's been a failure to comply, so we're still there making sure it's enforced."

The ground-breaking Domestic Abuse Act Scotland, which came into effect in April, has given police more muscle to bring abusers who use coercive and controlling behaviours before the courts.

Insp Campbell added: "The new legislation has enhanced our 'toolkit' – where before we were dealing with violence and disturbances we now have the tool where we can deal with coercive behaviour – where abuse is mental, not physical. That's a useful tool for us in our work. We are now in a position to deal with this as we have legislation to support us.

"Our officers are undergoing domestic abuse training in relation to the new legislation."

Insp Campbell said: "The agencies in Moray are committed to tackling domestic abuse. The key is agencies working together to achieve what they can.

"To eradicate domestic violence would ultimately be the aim – which is a lot of work – but from what I can see the agencies involved are dedicated to this aim."

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