EDINBURGH City Council received 5,476 reports of domestic abuse last year – more than 2,500 of which involved children, a new report reveals.
The overall figures equate to 15 incidents every day.
It has also been revealed that there are currently 1,404 children and young people being “looked after” by the city council as referrals to social work rise year on year.
The figures are contained within the city’s annual social work review, in which council chiefs warn of a growing funding gap in the face of a rising demand for services.
Domestic abuse figures have steadily risen across Scotland in recent years. Police Scotland recorded 60,080 incidents in 2012-13, up from 59,847 in the previous year. The rise is largely attributed to a more robust approach taken towards abusers.
Last year in Edinburgh, this resulted in around 3,300 children and family cases being managed by “practice teams”, approximately 1,600 child-protection referrals and 231 reports completed for children’s hearings.
A report recently published by the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration reveals that 3,275 children were referred on the grounds that they had a close connection to someone who had carried out domestic abuse.
However, despite more being done to tackle the issue, charities have warned that identifying the problem is only the first step and more needs to done to ensure correct services are in place.
NSPCC Scotland’s national head of services, Matt Forde, acknowledged the need for further investment and said: “Every year, thousands of children across Scotland are the hidden victims of domestic abuse. Many of them witness appalling scenes of violence and in some cases suffer injuries themselves. In two out of three cases of child death or serious injury, domestic abuse is a factor so it’s an issue that needs urgent attention.
“Victims of domestic abuse need timely support. Reaching children before they begin to act out their trauma by harming themselves, their families and their local communities is the only way to break the downward spiral of violence.”
This view is echoed by Lily Greenall, manager of Scottish Women’s Aid, which serves as an umbrella group for more than 300 domestic abuse organisations across Scotland.
She said: “We see it across the service especially over the last five years where more is done to identify domestic abuse, but there is less funding to put in place the systems needed to properly tackle the problem.
“We need to spend some resources now and implement a more holistic approach so as to reap the long-term benefits.”
In Edinburgh, the health and social care 2014-15 net budget of £204 million includes savings of £7.5m. However, belts require even more tightening in future years, with savings currently estimated at £21.7m for 2015-16 rising to £52.5m for 2016-17.
Within her annual review, chief social work officer Michelle Miller warned: “It is difficult to see how budget reductions on this scale can be delivered by efficiencies alone over the next few years, without the need for service reductions.”
City health, social care and housing convener Councillor Ricky Henderson has told how rising demand “creates pressures on budgets and services”.
He added: “Tackling domestic abuse is a priority for us and lots of multi-agency work with the police and other organisations goes on regularly to ensure that we protect and support victims and communities, and challenge perpetrators.”
Draft savings proposals will be subject to public consultation and engagement between October and December 2014, before the council takes final decisions in February 2015.