East Ayrshire Council has launched a Domestic Abuse Policy to helping victims of domestic abuse.

Police in East Ayrshire recorded 1,405 domestic abuse incidents in 2017/18.

Through the policy, the council aims to ensure confidential and sympathetic handling of situations arising from domestic abuse, whether during normal working hours or out of hours.

It will also provide advice about housing options and legal rights and responsibilities, as well as doing all it can to improve the safety of residents affected by domestic abuse, preventing further incidents by encouraging earlier reporting and rapid responses.

The policy launch event at Centrestage in Kilmarnock featured songs from Catalyst Voices including ‘Lean on Me’ and ‘Something Inside So Strong’. Testimonies from survivors of domestic abuse were read out, provided by East Ayrshire Women’s Aid.

Opening the event, Councillor Elena Whitham said: “This policy will ensure that all council staff are aware of the realities of domestic abuse and are empowered to act quickly to help keep our residents safe from harm.

“We know that abuse can happen to anyone but we also know that it happens predominantly to women and we must act collectively to safeguard them and their children.”

Councillor Jim McMahon, Cabinet Member for Older People and Community Safety and White Ribbon Scotland Ambassador, added: “This is a policy which applies equally to men and women; to anyone in East Ayrshire who is experiencing domestic abuse. It will run alongside the various campaigns that we already support including White Ribbon Scotland and 16 Days of Action which aim to eliminate gender violence.

“As part of the policy, we will make information about national and local domestic abuse support services available in a number of formats, raise awareness and encourage the reporting of domestic abuse through training and campaigns, and commit to ensuring that all children and young people affected by domestic abuse receive the support that they need.”