Council pioneers policy to help women who are victims of violence

A policy which offers help to women who are victims of violence or coercive control is to be pioneered by West Lothian Council.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 10:32 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 6:50 pm
West Lothian Council wants to ensure its own staff remain safe at the same time as it develops plans for the wider community

The council’s Executive has agreed to adopt a gender based violence (GBV) strategy for its own workforce at the same time as it carries out a consultation on how to ensure women’s safety in the wider community.

Head of corporate services, Julie Whitelaw, told the meeting: “The council recognises that as an employer it has a responsibility for the health, safety and welfare at work of employees.

“It is committed to ensuring gender equality in the workplace and preventing violence against women.

"By increasing awareness of the signs of gender based violence and providing a safe and supportive working environment, the council can help to support the welfare of an employee experiencing gender based violence.”

The policy focuses on the fact that, whilst men may be affected by abuse or violence, it is women who are disproportionately affected by abuse or violence as a result of their gender.

The guidance encourages managers to support employees to assess their level of risk and devise a personal safety plan in cases of GBV.

The council is currently consulting on developing a strategy tackling violence against women in wider society, including ways in which it can help in providing safer spaces for women.

The Community Planning Partnership, a group of 21 bodies including the council the emergency services, NHS, local businesses, and the Third sector, has already discussed proposals, as well as the GBV policy.

Depute council leader, Councillor Kirsteen Sullivan, who chairs the Community Planning Partnership, said: “Work is moving forward at pace on the Safety of Women & Girls in Public Places and Spaces.

“Lots of partners are offering to push out the survey through their organisations and it was also agreed that an event would be held with external speakers to report back on findings and to agree actions.

"There was also a report on the council’s Gender Based Violence Strategy, which is being developed particularly important given the rise in reported incidents during lockdown.”