The Scottish Government is committed to tackling and eradicating violence against women and girls. Over the period from 2015 to 2018, we have committed £20 million from the justice portfolio to support a range of projects and initiatives. We are strengthening the law in the area and are seeking views on a new specific offence of domestic abuse. We have established the equally safe joint strategic board, which will drive forward real and lasting change through key areas such as justice and prevention. As a Government, however, we recognise that to truly achieve our goal, enhancing the justice system in isolation is not enough. It is through tackling the root causes of gender inequality in all aspects of life that we will realise our true goal of eradicating violence against women and girls.
I am grateful to Fiona McLeod for raising that important issue. We have to remember that the whole family can be severely affected by domestic abuse, especially where children have been involved.
On support for victims, there is a range of existing measures to support vulnerable witnesses through our justice system, including children who witness domestic abuse. In addition, to assist children who are giving evidence, all those under 18 are entitled to supportive measures such as the use of screens and videolink systems as they move through the court process. Furthermore, the children’s services fund supports a range of specialist services that offer direct support to children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse. Fiona McLeod can be assured that the Government will be unrelenting in its commitment to ensuring that we continue to tackle all forms of domestic violence that are perpetrated against women and girls.
Some of that work is coming to its completion. Part of the work—on the stakeholder meetings that were due to take place—will be completed this month. Once that work has been undertaken and we have engaged with all the various stakeholders, we will be in a position to consider the final paper that comes from the research and the work that we have engaged in with our stakeholders.