WE ARE currently in the midst of this year’s 16 Days of Activism campaign.

This is an international campaign backed by the United Nations and organisations around the world with a call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

Domestic abuse is an issue which Police Scotland treats with a profound sense of seriousness and we have our own Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy that sets out and demonstrates our commitment to tackling crimes of this nature and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

The 16 Days campaign gives not only Police Scotland but all invested agencies an opportunity to come together to increase awareness of VAWG, promote a zero-tolerance approach, and promote the rights of women and girls. Through the campaign we share knowledge and creative ways to achieve equality and respect for everyone, regardless of gender.

Throughout 16 Days, all of the partners will be involved in highlighting forms of gender-based violence and also the support services available to victim survivors and their families.

Our online campaign aims to demonstrate what constitutes domestic abuse, the signs to look out for and how you can support those impacted and the agencies that can assist. Please have a look at the Don’t be that Guy video at youtu.be/pC-Gs7_oBRE

In addition, police will have stands at local supermarkets and community spaces to engage with the public and raise awareness, as well as making it clear that domestic offences will not be tolerated.

Anyone currently subject to domestic abuse, or knows someone who is, can be signposted to all relevant support available.

We know that many offences with a domestic or sexual element can go unreported and it’s vital for us to enhance our capability for evidence gathering.

That’s why we will be engaging with licensed premises staff in the near future to provide additional Bystander training so that those who work within these premises are aware of what to look out for and what to do if they see or suspect someone is being subjected to sexual abuse, sexual harassment or any sort of domestic offence.

If anyone has been a victim of any kind of sexual offence and don’t wish to firstly contact police, the Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service (SARCS) can help. SARCS is a dedicated NHS service which offers healthcare and support following rape or sexual assault.

SARCS offers a self-referral service, meaning that anyone aged 16 or over can access healthcare and request a forensic medical examination in the days following an assault.

SARCS will look after people’s immediate healthcare and wellbeing needs and can support people to have a forensic medical examination if appropriate, subject to professional judgement.

Keeping our communities safe from harm, be it domestic, sexual, physical or other, remains our number one priority and we will continue to do everything we can in our work with partners to deter such offences occurring, respond robustly when they do and provide survivors with all the necessary support and assistance they may require.