Move to train police to spot domestic abuse praised by Dundee women’s charity

Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald.

Plans to give police extra training on domestic abuse have been welcomed by a Dundee women’s charity.

Women’s Aid, based on North Lindsay Street, is pleased with the move which will see city officers given more education on how to spot signs of psychological harm.

More than 14,000 police officers throughout Scotland will be trained ahead of the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill which will criminalise psychological abuse and coercive control as well as physical abuse.

Figures show people in Dundee are more likely to fall victim to domestic abuse than any other council area in Scotland.

Recent statistics showed that 2,356 incidents were reported in 2015/16 — more than 32% above the national average.

Sophie Gwyther of Women’s Aid.

Sophie Gwyther, team leader at Dundee Women’s Aid, said: “Obviously this is really good news that they’re going to be getting this training.

“This will deal more with the psychological side of things.

“I think the police have done a good job in terms of domestic abuse in Dundee and I definitely think we’ve seen a change in how the agencies are treating it.

“There are still times where the police aren’t brilliant with domestic abuse but overall we have a good relationship.

“I think the psychological aspect is something we really want to make one of our big focuses going forward.

“That initial report coming forward is crucial if someone has been in an abusive relationship with sustained psychological abuse.

“So if that’s treated in the right way then it can make a huge difference.”

The Dundee branch has seen 360 women referred to their services in 2017.

According to the Ms Gwyther, the figure for 2017/18 is on course to mirror the 460 referrals recorded in the previous year.

Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald, of Police Scotland, said specialist training would help officers to spot the signs of domestic abuse.

She added: “We know that the controlling behaviours used by perpetrators to maintain power and control over victims can be both devious and devastating.

“However, to those outside the relationship, the ways in which a perpetrator will conceal their actions can often make them appear innocuous in isolation.”