Students reporting incidents of gender based violence to police will be immediately signposted to support in a new scheme being rolled out across Glasgow.
Gender Based Violence (GBV) Support Cards for students and staff at Scotland’s colleges and universities are already available but under this pilot, police officers will hand the cards out at the first point of contact with someone reporting an incident.
Each year on average, between 2014 and 2018, nearly 10,000 domestic incidents and 1900 sexual crimes were reported across Greater Glasgow. Of those 45 sexual crimes and 33 domestic abuse incidents were recorded as occurring at educational establishments (which covers all educational establishments including schools, colleges and universities). Announcing the pilot, Assistant Chief constable Gillian MacDonald, Crime and Protection lead, Police Scotland, said:
“We want to end GBV, and early intervention is key to prevention. It’s important that people know who to talk to and where they can get support if they need it, or if they think someone else might be a victim of GBV.
“This is a really simple, but we hope, effective solution to ensuring people are aware of the support available from the moment they report a GBV related incident such as domestic abuse, sexual crime, or honour based abuse.
“Whether people then access that support is their choice but our officers will hand out a card that will signpost people to support that is available either on campus or off.
“We want to spread the message that there is no shame or embarrassment in reporting domestic or sexual crime. Victims are not at fault. There are people who can and will help. It is offenders who bear sole responsibility for their actions.”
Fiona Drouet, driving force behind the EndGBV support cards and mother of Emily Drouet, said:
“Anyone who has been a victim of gender based violence will know how incredibly isolating it can feel and sadly, many future victims will come to experience this too. This product was developed as a lifeline – a buoy to help them navigate to the right support and empower them to take action.”
“I am really delighted that Police Scotland is piloting the cards. It means that officers can provide an immediate and tangible tool for victims. I know it’s not a catch-all solution and that excellent work has been taking place but it will take time for that to come to fruition. In the meantime, these support cards illustrate the progress we’re making and I look forward to the outcome of the pilot.”
Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said:
“We’re delighted to be working with Police Scotland on this pilot, which will ensure those who are experiencing gender based violence have access to the right support. We know that in some cases, people suffering from abuse or harassment are not ready to take support which is offered at the point of initial response. The nature of these cards will allow individuals to consider the support available to them, in their own time, and hopefully seek help when they are ready to.
“Since the start of the academic year, over 100,000 cards have been distributed to every university and college in Scotland. But gender based violence is a societal issue and one which is not solely restricted to university and college campuses. That’s why we’re keen to support Police Scotland with this trial, to explore what can be done to ensure more people have access to specialist support, should they need it.”
Anni Donaldson, Project Lead for Equally Safe in Higher Education, said:
“The Support Cards are the inspired idea of Fiona Drouet. I welcome this brilliant new initiative by Police Scotland. These discrete little cards will put a wealth of support information immediately into the hands of students approaching the police about any form of gender-based violence. They will know that there is help out there and that they are not alone.”
Reports of GBV are on the increase across all communities including offences committed on campus. But GBV remains under-reported. Police Scotland is working with Government and Scottish Universities to improve campus safety. Early intervention to support students and staff, and to build confidence in reporting offences is a key part of the ongoing work to educate and ultimately prevent GBV.
Greater Glasgow was chosen for the pilot based on the volume of population. The pilot will be assessed and if successful, work will begin to roll it out nationally.