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BSL Users - Access to 999 Emergency Services

The UK emergency services provides a video link to enable BSL users to access the 999 emergency services.

To access information on how to use this, download the app, or to make an emergency call if required, please follow this link: https://999bsl.co.uk/


We are living through unprecedented times where hardship is being felt by many of us.

At Dundee Women's Aid we support women who have to take safe refuge in what we will call a safe space, a safe house. Uprooted, disrupted and facing adversity having had to leave their home, often with children.

It is inconceivable that on top of leaving a home with the clothes on your back, that you face the same challenges to heat your home with escalating energy costs. Therefore, we are setting a target to raise £20,000 to assist those in our refuges over this winter so that they do not face hardships over and above the one in which they already face.

We also do not want to see any person return home to a place that they face domestic abuse because they cannot keep themselves warm or their children.

We ask you to consider giving up your coffee today, or your hot drink which you buy on a treat day, we ask you consider donating a small sum that could go towards a hardship fund. Let's do this together... pledge your support today and be part of a future that has a zero-tolerance approach to domestic abuse.


Fundraiser - £20,000 Refuge Cost of Living Crisis Hardship Fund (peoplesfundraising.com)



The Open Letter reads as follows:

The Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament Building, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland
Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans
Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government Ash Regan, Minister for Community Safety
Christina McKelvie, Minister for Equalities and Older People


Scottish Government proposals to implement Restorative Justice processes in domestic abuse and sexual violence crimes.

We are a group of violence against women (VAW) organisations and professional individuals working in Scotland who are recognised experts in this field. We work in a range of settings including advocacy and front-line services, the criminal justice system, teaching, research, knowledge exchange and policy. Some of us are survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence and other forms of Violence Against Women. We are deeply concerned about the Scottish Government's (SG) proposals to implement Restorative Justice (RJ) interventions in criminal cases of domestic abuse and sexual violence (DASV). While we understand the value of RJ processes and support their use in some crime types, we consider the implementation of RJ in DASV cases is inadvisable for a number of reasons.

Evidence base

The SG's own Guidance on implementing RJ states clearly that it 'will very rarely be appropriate for offences involving domestic abuse, sexual offences, human traficking, stalking or exploitation offences, particularly where there may have been a deliberate course of conduct or coercion by the person who has harmed over a prolonged period of time'. With this subject awareness then, we are concerned that Community Justice Scotland are progressing at pace with a focus on these very areas rather than in other crime types where there is not the complexity of intimate partner abuse or sexual violence.

Domestic abuse concerns

These proposals do not fully acknowledge or address the contested nature of RJ's use in highly gendered forms of interpersonal violence and abuse where women comprise the majority of victims and where the perpetrators are mainly men.

Domestic abuse/coercive control/ intimate partner violence are not one-off events but courses of conduct, whose frequency and severity can escalate over time and reach across private and public space. Domestic abuse may continue overtly or covertly at different stages of the relationship and beyond, may be accompanied by stalking and harassment including post-separation, irrespective of the parties' engagement with the criminal justice system. The College of Policing guidance states that the use of RJ is 'rarely appropriate in domestic abuse cases and not recommended in cases involving intimate partner abuse'. It states that domestic abuse is 'among the most hazardous of cases because of the risk to victims of re-victimisation or serious violence and the potential effects of controlling or coercive behaviour'. Acorn states, "Apology and forgiveness, the primary method of restorative repair, can often be anything but healing. They can be essential weapons for placing an offender in a position to inflict new wounds and reopen old ones." (Acorn, 2004, p. 74). Humphries cautions, "However it also has been suggested that practices of apology and forgiveness can be dangerous in the context of domestic violence and can be used as a powerful tool for continuing oppression and control in the family." (Humphreys et al 2018).

We are concerned that these proposals are not domestic abuse-informed. Sophisticated, evidence-based domestic abuse risk assessment tools have been developed following lengthy research, testing and evaluation for use by highly trained specialists when supporting survivors. We are concerned that no risk assessment tools exist for the specific use in the RJ process in Scotland.

The traumatic impact of domestic abuse and sexual assault is well documented. Many of the signatories to this letter are experienced in providing specialist support to women involved in the justice system in the aftermath of DASV. Physical and emotional safety are essential to recovery. We are concerned that the introduction of RJ processes will impact on women's recovery from trauma, be counterproductive and cause further harm. Engaging with the perpetrator in an RJ process may unconsciously re-traumatise, by reasserting a woman's previous traumatic bond, derail recovery and increase the risk to her safety. As control and manipulation are central in domestic abuse cases, overall this significantly challenges the appropriateness of RJ and is deeply problematic in this context.

Sexual violence concerns

The public perception of sexual violence is commonly of an unknown perpetrator of an unexpected single event. However, we know that sexual violence is a regular tool of coercive control by domestic abuse perpetrators, and also an exploitation of male privilege by men known to women in a non-intimate relationship, or casually.

Women's decisions to report DASV to the police are never made lightly. Such crimes thrive on secrecy, manipulation and shaming. Women are often made to feel responsible for what has happened to them and are encouraged to fix things for everyone else - often to their detriment. RJ in a context which fails to see the complexity of women's lives, and the ongoing impact of DASV may in fact limit women's agency and opportunities for independence and work to the benefit of her abuser.

The main report on which plans are being progressed, is highly flawed. There is recognition that a very small number of women may seek RJ as a resolution to the harm they have experienced.

However, we strongly contest this is suficient to endorse a national process with substantial, well-acknowledged risks.

We therefore maintain that RJ is not suitable for the vast majority of sexual violence cases, if at all. It cannot be removed from the overall landscape for women in a patriarchal society.

Implementation in spite of valid challenge

The skills and competences required for the use of RJ in DASV cases do not presently exist in Scotland. Despite that substantial financial resources have already been allocated to Thriving Survivors to deliver RJ national services in the context of SV offences. We are concerned that there is no publicly available evidence of the organisation's track record of competence in delivering highly specialist professional inputs to victims experiencing SV.

We are also concerned at the pace that this work has been pushed forward. It is our belief that these proposals are being rushed through in order to meet the timescales outlined in SG's Restorative Justice Action Plan of 2019. Current plans do not include the time required to comprehensively review the required process, the relevant evidence, identify needs and form judgements about the wisdom or eficacy of such proposals in the DASV context.

The proposed timescales also take little account of the preceding two years of Covid-19 restrictions which have held back the original scheduling for implementing a great many policy areas. Increased national investment in primary, secondary and tertiary VAW prevention strategies such as Safe and Together, including the expansion of community/voluntary and court mandated perpetrator programmes such as the Caledonian Programme, would yield far more long-term benefits to our society than the rushed implementation of an unproven intervention.

We urge the Scottish Government to:

withdraw DASV from the proposed implementation plan for RJ;
respond to the concerns outlined above;
take the time required to engage in a full and frank discussion with the country's leading VAW experts about this issue;
collaborate with VAW experts and other identified stakeholders to redefine the problem which RJ is currently being used to solve and devise alternative, safer and more VAW-informed solutions.

Yours sincerely,



Frances Monaghan, Wise Women
Isabelle Kerr MBE, Chair, Hemat Gryffe Women's Aid Mary Miller, Dundee Women's Aid
Fiona McMullen, ASSIST
Jan MacLeod, Women's Support Project Angela Devine, Glasgow Women's Aid Linda Rogers, Edinburgh Women's Aid
Sharon Aitchison, Monklands Women's Aid Girijamba Polobothu, Shakti Women's Aid Anne Brown, Angus Women's Aid
Heather Russell, Women's Aid South Lanarkshire and East Renfrewshire Fiona Gaffney, Wigtownshire Women's Aid
Jan Swan, Fife Rape and Sexual Assault Centre Michelle Ward, Women's Aid Orkney
Louise Craig, Perthshire Women's Aid Ilana Brown, West Lothian Women's Aid Laura Stronach, Shetland Women's Aid Aileen Forbes, Grampian Women's Aid
Claudia Macdonald, Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre Helen Provan, Lanarkshire Rape Crisis
Jill Osborne, Dumfries and Galloway Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Support Centre Julie Chisholm, Manager, Dumfries & Stewartry Womens Aid
Pam Hunter, CEO, Say Women


Dr Anni Donaldson, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Strathclyde. Mhairi McGowan, VAW Consultant
Dr Melanie McCarry, Senior Lecturer, University of Strathclyde Ann Hayne, GBV Lead, NHS Lanarkshire
Ann Hamilton, Independent Chair, Dundee VAWP Kirsti Hay, VAW Coordinator, Glasgow VAWP
Julie McCorrison, GBV Development Officer, South Lanarkshire Shona McCormick, GBV Training Officer, NHS Lanarkshire Rhona Watson
Ann Fehilly, Group Manager, VAW Services, Glasgow City Council
Kate Scordia, Social Worker
Trish Tougher, Network Manager, Public Health, NHS Lanarkshire Zoe Taylor, Say Women
Luis Pombo, Research and Information Officer, VAWG Dumfries and Galloway Dawn Fyfe, Strategic Manager, Wise Women
Heather Williams VAW Consultant
Dr Mairead Tagg, Clinical Psychologist


Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline launches new materials for British Sign Language users.

Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline is reaching out to British Sign Language (BSL) users to raise awareness about the support that is available for anyone experiencing domestic abuse or forced marriage.

The National Helpline Service has created 3 new videos for BSL users:

British Sign Language Video - What Is Domestic Abuse? - YouTube
British Sign Language Video - What Is Forced Marriage - YouTube
British Sign Language Video About Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline - YouTube

BSL users can contact the Helpline confidentially using Contact Scotland (contactscotland-bsl.org )

Zara Gilmour, Helpline Manager, said:

"Our Helpline is for everyone in Scotland and we want to make sure that anyone experiencing domestic abuse or forced marriage knows that we are here to speak to them in the language they are most comfortable using. Reaching out for support can be daunting for anyone and we know that BSL users can often experience additional barriers in accessing support due to a lack of services delivered in their first language.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has not caused domestic abuse - abuse is an abuser's choice, always. However, it has given abusers more tools to control and isolate their partners and children. And that prolonged isolation and increased control has made seeking help much more difficult for survivors. Now more than ever it is vital that we make sure our service is as accessible as possible so that anyone who wants support can access our expert advice when and where they need it.

"If you contact us using a BSL video interpreting service, your call will still be confidential. We will listen to you, believe you and offer you advice and information. We are here for you."


16th September 2021

We have moved. Our office is now situated at:

47 Blinshall Street


26th February 2021

Open letter: Helping women, children and young people to safety and freedom from abuse.

Please sign at Change.org

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