Alex Cole-Hamilton presses Sturgeon for action on violence against women

On Sunday 20th November, Scottish newspaper the Sunday Post outlined the most horrific failures of several public services towards Adrienne McCartney, a victim of domestic abuse who died by suicide earlier this year.

The paper reports how the Police dismissed her calls for help and then arrested her, holding her in dreadful conditions, over a social media post.  Then prosecutors  did a deal with her husband to drop the most serious charges before failing to ask for a non harassment order. And then when she tried to get help for her deteriorating mental health,  the NHS could not provide it.

Adrienne’s lawyer told the paper:

“In all my years working in the field of domestic abuse, this case is the worst. Adrienne was let down by every agency she turned to. It is unforgivable.

“She should be here today and the fact that she is not is an indictment of the system and how it addresses domestic abuse. What happened to Adrienne keeps me awake at night but tragically she is not the first and, unless there is dramatic change, she will not be the last.”

He also described his frustration on the night Adrienne was arrested:

“She eventually ­managed to get a phone call to me. When I told officers that I would happily bring Adrienne to the police station myself to answer any questions they had, I was told to ‘f*** off’. That is also currently the subject of an official complaint.

“So a young mother is taken from her home late at night, in front of her children, handcuffed, only to be released after several hours without any charge and this, it has to be stressed, is a ­documented victim of domestic abuse.”

This week’s Sunday Post had details of a letter Scottish Lib Dem Leader Alex Cole-Hamilton wrote to the First Minister after reading Adrienne’s story, alongside calls for action from MSPs from all parties. Alex repeated our call for a Commission to look at ways of ending men’s violence against women in all its forms:

Following Sarah Everard’s murder in 2021, we called on the Scottish Government to create a commission to look at all aspects of preventing male violence against women and girls.

“Since then, there seems to have been little progress and despite supportive noises from the then justice secretary, we’ve seen no government action.”

He added: “I’ve now written to the first minister urging her to act, telling her quite simply that we cannot go on like this. We owe it to the memory of Adrienne McCartney, Louise Aitchison, Sarah Everard and the many other women to act now.

“France has already brought in much tougher laws to end domestic abuse, with perpetrators receiving up to 10 years in jail if victims die from a domestic abuse related suicide. Scotland is not doing anywhere near enough to protect its women and girls.”

The thinking behind our idea for the Commission was to look at all tiers of government and public services and ensure that there was a co-ordinated plan of action. Sadly, Adrienne’s case shows why it’s necessary.

People who suffer domestic abuse, the vast majority of whom are women, need better. Scottish figures announced today show the the second highest number of recorded incidents of domestic violence, at 64807. That’s pretty much one every eight minutes if my Maths is right.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart made the point that these were only the incidents that we know about:

Today’s figures are unacceptable. They are a devastating testament to the prevalence of this hideous, controlling and often life-threatening crime.

“We should remember that the true scale of domestic abuse is difficult to measure since a large proportion of it goes unreported and remains hidden. Children are often forgotten victims of domestic abuse.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats have been calling on the government to develop a new ‘Destitution Fund’ to help people experiencing domestic abuse to leave and regain agency over their futures.

“Given that most domestic abuse is perpetrated against women, Scottish Liberal Democrats are also setting up a policy commission which will consider all aspects of men’s violence against women and girls.

“We need the Scottish Government to act now on pragmatic calls like these. Victims need to know that there is a route out of the crisis.”

Back in 2019, I proposed the motion which created that destitution fund and also called for greater support to enable victims to stay in their homes if they wanted to and for better support to be given to them from the housing sector.

In the time it’s taken me to write this article, three incidents of domestic abuse will have taken place in Scotland alone. This annual 16 days of activism against gender based violence needs to kickstart the change that our society so desperately needs.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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One Comment

  • It’s a no brainer really and it makes you wonder why the First Minister – an ardent feminist we are told – isn’t gung ho to press ahead with doing as Alex is asking. Too busy stirring up dissent I guess

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