Council launches Domestic Abuse policy

East Ayrshire Council has launched a Domestic Abuse Policy which sets out its commitment to helping anyone in East Ayrshire who is experiencing domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse is emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse by a partner or ex-partner. It is characterised by a pattern of controlling behaviour which escalates in frequency and severity over time. In 2017/18 the police in East Ayrshire recorded 1,405 domestic abuse incidents.

Through the policy, the Council aims to ensure confidential and sympathetic handling of situations arising from domestic abuse, whether during normal working hours or out of hours. It will also provide accurate and appropriate advice about housing options and legal rights and responsibilities, as well as doing all it can to improve the safety of residents affected by domestic abuse, preventing further incidents by encouraging earlier reporting and rapid responses.

The policy launch event at Centrestage in Kilmarnock featured songs from Catalyst Voices including ‘Lean on Me’ and ‘Something Inside So Strong’, and testimonies from survivors of domestic abuse were read out, provided by East Ayrshire Women’s Aid.

Callum Chomczuk from the Chartered Institute of Housing spoke about its Make A Stand Pledge which the Council took in March this year. It encourages housing organisations to make a commitment to support people experiencing domestic abuse, and Councillor Elena Whitham, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities and Bob McCulloch, Acting Head of Housing and Communities are Pledge Champions.

Councillor Whitham opened the launch event and said: “This policy will ensure that all council staff are aware of the realities of domestic abuse and are empowered to act quickly to help keep our residents safe from harm.

“We know that abuse can happen to anyone but we also know that it happens predominantly to women and we must act collectively to safeguard them and their children.

“I am proud that we have taken this bold step in East Ayrshire to say that domestic abuse, in all of its forms, is not welcome here.”

Councillor Jim McMahon, Cabinet Member for Older People and Community Safety and White Ribbon Scotland Ambassador, closed the event, saying: “This is a policy which applies equally to men and women; to anyone in East Ayrshire who is experiencing domestic abuse. It will run alongside the various campaigns that we already support including White Ribbon Scotland and 16 Days of Action which aim to eliminate gender violence.

“As part of the policy, we will make information about national and local domestic abuse support services available in a number of formats, raise awareness and encourage the reporting of domestic abuse through training and campaigns, and commit to ensuring that all children and young people affected by domestic abuse receive the support that they need.”

Anyone who is experiencing domestic abuse can contact:

  • Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline on 0800 027 1234. The helpline is free, confidential and won’t show on your phone bill.
  • East Ayrshire Women’s Aid on 01563 536001.
  • East Ayrshire Council 24-hour emergency helpline on 0345 724 0000.

Note to editor:

The East Ayrshire Domestic Abuse Policy was developed taking account of The Istanbul Convention, the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 and the recommendations contained in Equally Safe – Scotland’s Strategy for Preventing and Eradicating Violence against Women and Girls.

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