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New review system to ‘learn lessons’ in homicides and suicides linked to abuse

Justice Secretary Angela Constance said there are still a ‘significant number’ of homicide cases involving domestic abuse (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Justice Secretary Angela Constance said there are still a ‘significant number’ of homicide cases involving domestic abuse (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A new review system is to be set up to identify what lessons can be learned in deaths where abuse is suspected.

The Scottish Government said its proposals for a Domestic Homicide and Suicide Review Model could ultimately lead to fewer of these cases.

It comes as Justice Secretary Angela Constance said Scotland still has a “significant number” of homicide cases involving domestic abuse “where the vast majority of victims are women”.

Ms Constance explained the government plans would see justice, health and social care agencies work together “to establish what could be done better” in the wake of such cases.

She also said it was “absolutely right that these reviews should also happen in cases of suicides, as well as homicides, where abuse has been a factor”.

Fiona Drouet, who set up the charity EmilyTest after her daughter Emily took her own life in 2016 shortly after her boyfriend visited her in her university halls of residence, is to chair the Domestic Abuse Related Suicide Task and Finish Group.

Ms Drouet said her daughter had suffered a “campaign of abuse and violence from her boyfriend”, adding that he “remained in the same halls of residence where he was able to see her room from his window”.

The Justice Secretary added: “By identifying areas for change and improvement, we can help to prevent further deaths and give a voice to those who have been killed.”

Meanwhile, Ms Drouet said including domestic abuse related suicides in the new review scheme showed Scotland to be a “progressive” country which “recognises the extent of the harms caused by domestic abuse”.

She added: “These reviews will be absolutely pivotal in gaining valuable lessons and will go some way to helping us build a safer society.

“It signifies a positive move towards understanding and addressing the complexities surrounding domestic abuse and its consequences.

“I feel very privileged to be invited to chair the Task and Finish group and, after losing our daughter in these circumstances.

“I wholeheartedly commit to working with valued colleagues in the field to get this right for everyone.”