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Specialist service for victims of violence

Published: 14 Oct 2016 15:30
Part of:
Law and order

Scottish Women’s Rights Centre expands to Dundee and the Highlands.

Advice and support for victims of gender based violence will be expanded after Justice Secretary Michael Matheson confirmed an extra £665,000 over two years.

As a result of this new funding, the Scottish Women's Rights Centre (SWRC) will significantly increase its legal team to provide direct legal support in Glasgow, Lanarkshire and, for the first time, Dundee and the Highlands.

The Centre is a partnership project between Rape Crisis Scotland, the University of Strathclyde and the Legal Services Agency, with students from the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic providing extra legal support.

The SWRC will employ a new full time advocacy support worker, focusing on the needs of the women who access the service, and the centre's helpline will increase its hours to ensure that women have more options available to them to seek legal information and advice on any aspect of gender based violence.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Mr Matheson said:

"The Scottish Women's Rights Centre, which recently celebrated its first year of operation, is an excellent example of how drawing together many specialist groups can offer those who have suffered violence the widest range of advice and support needed.

"Different areas of Scotland have different needs, for example, rural locations can have geographical barriers to accessing otherwise mainstream services and this additional £665,000 funding will help us reach more women across Scotland.

"I am also delighted that the centre will be able to recruit a full-time specialist advocacy support worker who will be able to provide much needed support to women who may require more than just legal solutions to their circumstances.

"All of the groups involved in the centre play an invaluable role in supporting victims to come to terms with the aftermath of horrendous crimes and I am grateful to them for their hard work and continued efforts to strengthen the services for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Scotland."

Marsha Scott, Chief Executive of Scottish Women's Aid and member of the SWRC's Advisory Group said:

"Scottish Women's Aid is absolutely delighted that the Scottish Government is increasing funding to Scottish Women's Rights Centre (SWRC). SWRC is an innovative, thinking-out-of-the-box response to the problem of women's lack of access to competent and affordable legal services when they experience domestic and or sexual violence. Clearly this expansion out of the central belt allows us to look at the model in new settings, a very welcome development that will allow us to design services fit for women across Scotland.

"Congratulations are in order for the staff team, who have done such a good job in the first phase, and to Rape Crisis Scotland and LSA, who have provided so much insight and support to the Centre."

Kate Laverty, University of Strathclyde Law Clinic, said:

"The Law Clinic at Strathclyde is delighted to be part of the development of the Scottish Women's Rights Centre. Women all over Scotland clearly need this service and our students are eager to help.

"Not only are they keen to hone their legal skills but they want to be part of changing things for the better for those experiencing gender based violence. Their involvement at this early stage in their studies helps to spread knowledge and skills in this specialist area of law and will have a huge influence in their future careers in law."

Rape Crisis Scotland spokeswoman Sandy Brindley said:

"Today's announcement will mean a significant improvement in the legal advice and protection offered to women across Scotland. There is a clear need for free & specialist legal advice to be provided to women following rape or abuse. This funding will help the Scottish Women's Rights Centre to promote and protect women's human rights."

Notes to editors

The Scottish Women's Rights Centre is a partnership project between Rape Crisis Scotland, the University of Strathclyde and the Legal Services Agency, with students from the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic providing additional legal support.

Funding from the £20m Violence Against Women and Girls Justice Budget will cover costs of running the new surgeries and additional helpline hours, training, awareness raising and mentoring outreach work and the costs of full time solicitors for the Centre, who will be based within Glasgow, Dundee and Inverness. All advice to women provided is free, referrals may be made to other firms and direct legal representation is taken on in accordance with the SWRC's criteria. Legal Aid is applied for where clients are eligible.