Minister visits pioneering court advocacy project

Minister visits pioneering court advocacy project Image

A NEW project which helps victims of domestic abuse in Dundee to navigate the criminal justice system has welcomed Minister for Community Safety, Ash Regan.

The minister visited Dundee ASSIST domestic abuse court advocacy service to see for herself the pioneering partnership between Dundee Women’s Aid, Barnardo’s, Dundee City Council, Police Scotland and Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership.

Community Safety Minister Ash Regan said: “I greatly valued the opportunity to visit the Dundee ASSIST domestic abuse court advocacy service and to hear first-hand from those who have experienced our justice system.

“We are providing £1.4 million over the next three years to this partnership, ensuring survivors of domestic abuse in Dundee receive vital support.

“Violence against women is a fundamental violation of human rights and absolutely no one should have to suffer abuse.”

The project, which launched earlier this year, aims to reduce risk and improve the safety of all victims of domestic abuse: women, children and men in Dundee to ensure they are safe, informed and supported throughout their involvement with the criminal justice system.

Based at Divisional Police Headquarters in Dundee the service monitors the perpetrator’s progress through court, from first appearance to completion of the court process. Following contact with the client in advance of each court hearing, information on their views is passed to the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service. After each court hearing an update is provided to the client and their Safety Plan amended accordingly.

Where clients are at high risk of further harm a referral is made to a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) and the service is their “voice” at the meeting.

Ann Hamilton independent chair of the Dundee Violence Against Women Partnership said: “It has been long understood that navigating the criminal justice system can be a difficult process for women and children who have been victims of domestic abuse. I want to stress that these feelings are legitimate and in Dundee you will be heard.

“This project puts someone with knowledge of the system and experience of the process into the victims’ corner to make the whole thing less intimidating and more focussed on the experience of the individual who experienced abuse.

“Anyone affected by such issues, in any form, will be taken seriously, listened to and believed by services in Dundee and support such as that from Dundee ASSIST will be provided that is sensitive to their needs.”

Since the project’s launch in May it has helped to support more than 300 people navigate the courts and criminal justice system in Dundee.

Pic shows left to right – Cllr Lynne Short; Lynn MacDonald, Head of Service Dundee Assist; Ash Regan, Community Safety Minister and Cllr Roisin Smith.

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