This time last year I was preparing to brief MPs on future stages of the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women & Domestic Abuse Bill, which had passed the first stage in Westminster just before the Christmas break. That unprecedented piece of legislation made history, and the passing of the Bill some months later has led to the prioritisation of legislation and action to tackle domestic and intimate abuse.
I was in the cinema just last week, when I was able to witness the Police Scotland’s “We are coming for you” campaign. Encouraging people to report domestic abuse, it was a hard-hitting message across cinemas, radio and social networks. It challenges perpetrators, and sends an important reminder that police are ready to tackle these crimes that continue to be a blight on our communities.
Alongside this campaign, the Scottish Government have been preparing for the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill to pass in the coming weeks. This Bill will make coercive control and psychological abuse a specific crime, and is reported to be unique in law internationally. Finally, legislation in Scotland will reflect the understanding that domestic abuse occurs over a long period of time, and isn’t solely physical. With the legislation comes the specialist training that will be offered to police in Scotland, helping officers identify the actions which are part of this cycle of abuse. The commitment beyond legislation to fund such training and implementation is an important sign, and should be welcomed by all.
The nations of the United Kingdom are working in harmony to tackle domestic abuse, recognising that it does not stop at any border. Moving forward, the UK Government remains committed to ratifying the Istanbul Convention that will enshrine the right to access services and support for all. Stay Brave remains committed to ensuring such access, for all, and I look forward to the work that is to come which will see this vision realised.
On behalf of the Board of Stay Brave, I’d like to wish you the most successful year, filled with peace, joy and happiness. I am hopeful that 2018 brings exciting challenges for you, and as I enter my second year as Chair of the Board I’m looking forward to our organisation shaping up to take on many opportunities as we grow.
Please do join us on this journey, as together we can truly make a difference.
Nathan Sparling is the Chair of the Board of Trustees for Stay Brave. Along with his current role as the Head of Policy and Campaigns for HIV Scotland, he has advised on the ratification of the Istanbul Convention in Westminster and worked cross parties to better the lives of survivors. You can follow him on Twitter: @NathanSparkling