CHARITIES have praised a police campaign tackling domestic abuse for its focus on the perpetrators – after previous efforts were criticised for “victim-blaming”.

Police Scotland launched the “Is That Me?” campaign just prior to the New Year, looking to tackle domestic abuse before it starts by encouraging young men to recognise red-flag behaviours.

The campaign urges people to reflect on their actions and seek help if they identify coercive control and worrying patterns that could escalate into abuse within their relationship.

The behaviours highlighted in the campaign video include stopping your partner from seeing their friends or family, restricting their freedom and insisting on monitoring their communications or whereabouts.

The primary message of the campaign, which appears at the end of the video, states: “At the start of a relationship, you don’t always see the man you might become. Attitudes and behaviour can turn a promising relationship into an abusive one.”

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Police Scotland has come under fire in the past for a “victim-blaming” narrative behind its personal safety advice.

In 2021, a tweet posted to the Forth Valley Police Division account sparked backlash for instructing nightclub attendees to never leave their glass unattended and not to take drugs, to prevent their drink being spiked.

The tweet, which has since been deleted, was published in October, during a dramatic increase in the number of spiking cases being reported across Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling and Dundee.

Chair of the Scottish Women’s Convention and long-time women’s rights advocate Agnes Tolmie praised the fresh approach.

She said: “This advert by Police Scotland is to be welcomed. Whilst women have to be aware of male controlling behaviour, this advert has put the responsibility for it firmly at the door of men.

“For too long, women have had to endure not only the problems of controlling behaviours of men, but have had to try and resolve it on their own. It’s time men joined in to tackle this destructive behaviour.

“If men view the advert and identify themselves in it or indeed identify other men who behave in this way, then hopefully they will do something to change.”

Caroline Bernard, head of influence at domestic violence charity Respect, echoed the importance of highlighting the perpetrators.

She said: “We’re pleased to see Police Scotland continuing the work to tackle misogyny and domestic abuse.

“By directly addressing perpetrators in this campaign, they are encouraging self-reflection and accountability without instilling shame or judgement, a strong approach to getting perpetrators to seek support to start to change their behaviour.

“We know that prevention and early responses to domestic abuse are vital in stopping that abuse from escalating.”

Every year, Police Scotland responds to more than 60,000 domestic incidents, more than 80% of which involve a male perpetrator and a female victim.

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Despite this huge number, the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey estimates that less than one in five domestic abuse cases are reported to the police.

Between 2021-2022, there were 118 incidents of domestic abuse recorded per 10,000 population.

Dundee City (172), West Dunbartonshire (161) and Glasgow City (147) had the highest incident rates per 10,000 population.

Detective Superintendent Gillian Faulds, spokesperson for domestic abuse for Police Scotland, said: “We’re hoping that this campaign will influence young men and their behaviours at a very early stage, and ultimately stop them from becoming domestic abusers in the first place.

“We realise that the domestic abuse can be gradual and it’s not always obvious in a victim’s relationship that they are a victim at an early stage, but what we will say is that there’s only one person responsible for the abuse and that’s the abuser themselves.”

The campaign comes after the Scottish Government released research results regarding the revolutionary Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018.

The legislation, which came into force in April in 2019, expanded the definition of domestic abuse in Scottish criminal law. Offences now encompass coercive control, and emotional and psychological abuse, as well as physical and sexual abuse.

On Tuesday, a report was released concluding that the legislation “better reflects victims experiences”.

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The report includes research conducted by Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish Government, revealing that the majority of women surveyed felt that engaging with the criminal justice system in reference to domestic abuse was “the right decision” for them.

The report showed that between April 2019 and March 2021, out of 672 domestic abuse proceedings, 595 (89%) resulted in convictions.

Justice Secretary Keith Brown said: “I am absolutely resolute that we must treat all domestic abuse victims appropriately and with compassion – the vast majority of whom are women.

“We are already making significant improvements and its very encouraging that this report found our new laws have better reflected victims’ experiences.”

In February 2022, the Scottish Government published the Vision for Justice, since which increasing progress has been made including £48 million in victim support funds, £53m in justice recovery funds, and the funding of the Caledonian System, a behaviour programme for men convicted of domestic abuse offences.

In 2023, the Scottish Government also intends to introduce a Criminal Justice Reform Bill, abolishing the “not proven” verdict, and a bringing in a statutory right to anonymity for victims of sexual offences.