Councillor Anthea Dickson, CJA Chair

 

On Friday 24th November 2017, Community Justice Ayrshire attended an Ayrshire 16 Day of Action event: Conference on Stalking that was held at Fullarton Connexions, Irvine. This was hosted by Ayrshire Violence Against Women Partnerships. The event was chaired by Councillor Anthea Dickson, who is also the Community Justice Ayrshire board chair.

The conference was kicked off with an input from Chief Superintendent, Paul Main, Ayrshire Divisional Commander. He provided an input into the changing attitudes towards stalking over the years and the response from Police Scotland now, stating that the conference was a real listening exercise for Police Scotland. Chief Supt Main also described how there was ‘no hard to reach audiences – but there are hard to reach services.’

 

Lots to celebrate – lots to learn – lots to improve.

Annie McLaughlin thereafter provided an input, 25 years to here: the role of public campaigns in ending violence against women. Annie is a writer and equality and diversity specialist, based at the University of Strathclyde. In 2016, she was awarded a bursary by Zero Tolerance Scotland as part of their ‘Write to End Violence Against Women’ campaign, in partnership with the Sunday Herald, including representation of violence against women in the media, sexual assault on university campuses, the persistence of victim blaming and workplace sexism and harassment.

Violence Against Women is not inevitable. It is not all men – but it is all women.

The session thereafter broke up into different groups, giving agencies an opportunity to network and share good practice. The theme for the networking groups was to focus on stalking. If 2018 was to be the year of stalking for Ayrshire, what would the priorities be and where could we make significant impacts.

Funky Films thereafter premiered another film titled “From there to here.” This film was very powerful in delivering key messages to the audience.

The conference thereafter played host to local group, ‘Heart and Soul’, who entertained with their choir and sang several songs whilst showcasing their organisation. As well as the powerful choir, they described how ‘Heart and Soul’ has brought together women from the community in Cumnock as one, and the ripple effect it is having into local surrounding villages.

Ann Moulds thereafter delivered an input to the conference. Ann’s professional background is in Psychology and Clinical Behavioural Psychotherapy, training and development. In 2009, she launched her award winning national and international campaign Action Scotland Against Stalking (ASAS) with the overall aim of having stalking recognised as a specific criminal offence within Scotland, England and Wales and Europe. Now known as Action Against Stalking (AAS), AAS has continued to lead the way in advancing recognition of stalking, championing the rights of stalking victims globally and supporting those who are or have been victims of stalking

Stephanie Blair thereafter delivered the final input. Stephanie is the Senior Procurator Fiscal depute and is currently the Stalking Lead for Ayrshire. She regularly reviews all Stalking cases reported in both Ayr and Kilmarnock Offices and provides proactive guidance to legal staff and Police in relation to prosecution. She regularly engages with victims of stalking and recognises the impact of these behaviours and the court process on the individuals.

The Conference provided a great opportunity for the various partners in the room to share good practice and learn throughout the day.

Lots learned – lots to improve.