Dunfermline Press

Making Dunfermlin­e a safer space for women and girls

- By Ellidh Aitken Reporter ellidh.aitken@dunfermlin­epress.co.uk

HOW to make Dunfermlin­e safer for women and girls will be discussed during the launch of a new campaign.

Safe in the City - Fearless in Fife is a Kingdom-wide initiative which will begin in Dunfermlin­e with a meeting to address what life is like in workplaces, school, college and other public places.

It will involve speakers and group discussion­s as well as stalls and displays about how to tackle the threats and abuse online, in the streets and behind closed doors.

Organiser Sue Hampson told the Press: “It’s an issue that raises a lot of queries and a lot of fear for women in their lives, in their work, wherever they go.

“We felt that it was really important to highlight the experience of women and young girls, what it is like.

“Particular­ly because Dunfermlin­e is a city now we thought it was an apt time to actually think about what it is like to live here.

“We thought it was really important to consider what it’s like at school now for women and young girls, what it’s like when you’re walking home. ed by the Scottish TUC Safe Home Campaign, Fife Rape and Sexual Assault Centre ( FRASAC), the Kingdom Abuse Survivors Project ( KASP) and Labour Women in Fife.

It will also be mentioned on the match day programme at East End Park on September 23 as men are encouraged to join the conversati­on.

Sue added: “We’re not saying that men and boys don’t get attacked - they do - but predominat­ely it’s women that get attacked or have to consider it.

“We need to get men on board with this because it is men predominan­tly who assault or harass women.

“We don’t want it just to be a women’s meeting, we want men to come along.”

Sue hopes that the meeting will uncover what women think Dunfermlin­e could benefit from - this could be something like better street lighting or other practical ways to make the city safer.

She said: “We wanted to talk to and find out from women and girls in Dunfermlin­e particular­ly at the moment at this meeting what it’s like, what their experience of going home is, or in school how sexually harassed they feel, at college or work as well.

“Also in public places, in the park, in the Glen.

“I am a therapist and work with people who have faced trauma of some kinds.

“The number of people I have worked with who have been assaulted in the Glen is phenomenal.

“A lot of those women, because of the justice system or because of circumstan­ces don’t want to talk about it, don’t want to come forward.

“It’s these kinds of issues which we thought were really important.”

These ideas will then be taken to authoritie­s such as Fife Council or to other policy makers and politician­s.

Sue said: “We don’t think we are going to change the world in just one meeting, everything is a process but I think one of the things I am really aware of in the work I do is that it’s a huge public health issue.

“If people are subject to assault or abuse or domestic abuse they actually are quite often physically or mentally ill and not able to go to work or school.”

The Safe In The City - Fearless in Fife meeting will take place on September 24 in the Glen Pavilion between 2pm and 4 pm.

Speakers include representa­tives from Fife Rape and Sexual Assault Centre, STUC Safe Home Campaign, Dunfermlin­e Athletic Community Engagement, Lochgelly Law Centre, Soroptimis­ts, Fife Violence Against Women Project, Fife Forum, Falling UP Together, and Dunfermlin­e,Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes Labour Party.

Debi Brown from Duloch in Bloom, who bravely came forward in the Press earlier this year to speak about her experience with domestic abuse, will also be in attendance as well as teachers and students from Queen Anne school.

A DUNFERMLIN­E teenager who assaulted two younger girls after an argument outside a shop has managed to stay out of further trouble, Dunfermlin­e Sheriff Court has heard.

Shannon Smith, 19, of Adamson Crescent, had previously admitted that on August 15 last year at Townhill Road, Dunfermlin­e, she assaulted a girl then aged 15 by striking her head with her hand.

She then assaulted a second girl, aged 15, by striking her on the head.

Depute fiscal Catherine Stevenson said that after an exchange of words, Smith grabbed the girl and hit her to the eye with a closed fist.

She then hit a second girl by striking her on the head.

Smith’s mum arrived at the scene and apologised before escorting her away, added the depute.

Defence solicitor Lucy Martin said her client was a first offender and her actions had been out of character.

“She accepts she lost her temper and her judgement was poor,” she added.

Sentence had been deferred for good behaviour and Smith has stayed out of further trouble.

As a result, Sheriff Lindsay Foulis admonished her.

Katrina now hopes her public battle and victory will inspire other victims, survivors and bereaved families to never give up in their pursuit for answers.

“I honestly couldn’t care less about compensati­on as I have my own means to live,” she said. “I raised a legal action to get answers.

“I honestly think the council would have done more if their lorry killed a dog instead of my husband.”

William, 46, died on 25 May 2018 near the village of Cleish in Fife after he rounded a blind bend on his bicycle and collided with a bin lorry.

The former RAF veteran suffered serious injuries and was trapped under the vehicle but he passed away despite the efforts of medics.

Police investigat­ed the crash but prosecutor­s ruled out any criminal action against the lorry driver or Council.

Katrina said this decision then sparked a wall of silence from officials on all sides.

She said: “I felt like everyone was saying William, someone who devoted his life to his country, didn’t matter.

“With no prosecutio­n the council dug their heels in, treated us with absolute defiance and basically said ‘Your husband is 100 per cent to blame so go away’.

“Councils, police and fiscal, all the communicat­ion dried up. They reached their own conclusion­s and that was that.

“It made me sick with anger but instead of feeling brow-beaten and rejected it actually fired me up more.”

In 2019, one year after the tragedy, Katrina teamed up with Digby Brown Solicitors and began building a legal case.

Over time, negotiatio­ns with Perth & Kinross Council broke down on one occasion the Council’s insurance company even failed to attend a scheduled meeting which only inflamed the sense of defiance.

Katrina’s civil action was later escalated to a jury trial at the Court of Session in Edinburgh the highest civil court in the country.

After hearing evidence for four days jurors concluded that while William did play a

bpart in the accident they agreed the bin lorry driver was definitely responsibl­e as well.

William was deemed to be 58 per cent due to taking the bend too quickly with the bin lorry driver being 42 per cent responsibl­e due to their positionin­g on the road.

The percentage of blame known as contributo­ry negligence means Katrina and her three daughters Eden, Harmony and Honey will see their £1.3m compensati­on deducted by 58 per cent to reflect William’s portion of responsibi­lity, leaving them with around £550,000.

Katrina added: “I could not accept that someone would lay 100 per cent of the blame at William’s feet. So, for me, the court case was not about proving William was right but about proving the council was wrong.

“And we did that. We now have a black and white ruling to prove the council was wrong in their argument and I feel vindicated for that.

“Bigger picture though,

Perth & Kinross Council need to take a long, hard look at themselves and their policies around dealing with bereaved families because the way they treated us was frankly inhuman and is actually what sparked this whole process.

“From day one they didn’t show a thread of empathy but I wasn’t going to just meekly bow down because me, the girls and William deserved better.

“My youngest daughter, who was seven- years- old when her dad died, wanted to know the specifics of how he died.

“I didn’t want to be in a position where my only answer is ‘I don’t know’ and I certainly didn’t want to be in a position where I had to tell her ‘Well, I could have tried to get answers but I didn’t try’.

“To anyone else out there who has lost someone or is caught up in these kinds of cases keep going. Ignore the naysayers. Ignore every wee thought that tells you it’s too hard or it’s not worth it because it is.

“Take whatever pain and anger you have and use it to motivate you and sharpen your thinking.

“You’ll get the truth and answers you need. You’ll get your justice.”

Innes Laing, Partner at Digby Brown Solicitors in Kirkcaldy, led the legal action that helped the Ronald family secure answers. He said: “I’m genuinely moved by the sustained drive, strength, dignity and patience shown by Katrina and her children because it’s not easy to hold fast for so long.

“Katrina is also completely right - all bereaved families deserve answers and empathy and I hope others out there, from victims to responsibl­e third parties, take note of the lessons from this rare but extremely important legal action.” Responding to the claims, a Perth & Kinross Council spokespers­on said: “We are very aware of how difficult the loss of Mr Ronald has been for his family. “The civil case brought against the council was dealt with by our insurers and we note the verdict of the jury. Our thoughts continue to be with Mrs Ronald and her family.”

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 ?? ?? Safe In the City supporters with Drew Walker from Dunfermlin­e art project Falling UP.
Safe In the City supporters with Drew Walker from Dunfermlin­e art project Falling UP.
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