Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson has welcomed the news that an additional £20 million will be invested in a range of measures to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls in Scotland.

The First Minister confirmed that the funding would be put in place over the next three years to better support victims of violence and sexual assault by:

• Increasing court capacity to reduce delays, inconvenience and stress for victims and their families.
• Widening access to specialist advocacy and support services for the victims of crime, including domestic abuse and sexual offences.
• Expanding access to specialist legal advice to victims of rape and other sexual offences.
• Exploring an expansion to innovative initiatives such as the Caledonian System, which work with men convicted of domestic abuse related offences to address the underlying causes of their behaviour and further protect women.
• Improving education and information resources to help increase public understanding of these crimes and reinforce a zero-tolerance approach to domestic abuse and sexual crimes.

The funding announced today is in addition to the £11.8 million to tackle violence against women announced last week as part of the Scottish Government’s equality budget for 2015-16. It also comes days after the First Minister launched a consultation on proposals for a specific domestic abuse offence that would reflect fully the devastating experience of the victims and enforce a zero-tolerance approach on the perpetrators.

In welcoming this additional funding Mr Matheson said:

“Domestic abuse is a crime that affects 1 in 6 women in our society, which the Scottish Government is determined to tackle.

“Earlier this week, The First Minister announced plans to strengthen the law against domestic abuse. Subject to consultation, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation this year.

“I very much welcome the First Minister’s announcement that new funding of £20 million over the next three years in order to step up work to tackle violence against women.

“The money will be invested in measures to speed up the court process, give more support to victims, and expand schemes to help offenders change their behaviour and reduce reoffending, all of which I welcome.”