Scotland’s reported domestic abuse down 3%

A domestic violence scene posed by models. PICTURE:  JULIE HOWDEN
A domestic violence scene posed by models. PICTURE: JULIE HOWDEN
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The number of domestic abuse cased reported to the police in Scotland have fallen by three per cent over the past year, latest figures show.

In 2015 to 2016 there were 58,104 incidents compared to 59,882 the year before.

As in previous years, 80 per cent of victims were female, while the remainder were male, according to Scottish Government statistics.

In half of reported domestic abuse cases, the victim, accused or both were already known to police for previous incidents.

The statistics also show the location of domestic abuse incidents, with 87 per cent happening in the home.

At local authority level, Dundee City and West Dunbartonshire had the highest incident rates per 10,000 population at 160 and 152.

Michael Matheson, Justice Secretary, said victims were “refusing to stay quiet” to such abuse and said new legislation was being prepared to tackle controlling and coercive behaviour.

“Scotland will not tolerate the scourge of domestic abuse. Nobody should live in fear at home or within their wider community and we continue to do everything we can to eradicate this type of violence and support victims to have the confidence to come forward and report the crimes committed against them.

“We welcome the drop in the number of domestic abuse incidents recorded, against a backdrop of an overall fall in recorded crime, and we remain confident that more victims are refusing to stay quiet about what is happening to them.

“We are now preparing new legislation to tackle domestic abuse which takes the form of controlling and coercive behaviour, widening our laws to reflect the damage of this kind of psychological abuse.”

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams, strategic lead for Police Scotland’s response to domestic abuse, said: “These figures illustrate the complexity and scale of the issue but domestic abuse isn’t about statistics or numbers alone; it’s about the impact it has on vulnerable victims, their families and our communities.”

Scottish Labour’s justice spokeswomen, Claire Baker MSP questioned the number of cases which reached court.

“A drop in incidents is welcome but questions will be asked as to why only half of all incidents result in a crime or offence.

“It is also troubling that half of all incidents involved someone who had previously been a victim or accused, raising concerns about persistent and repeat offenders.

“That is why Scottish Labour is calling for the Scottish Government to go further with their domestic abuse bill and introduce domestic abuse courts nationwide to end the postcode lottery for convictions.”

Marsha Scott, Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “Though we’ve not yet had time to explore the details of these new statistics, at first reading the 3 per cent shift is neither a seismic nor a significant one.

“Across Scotland tens of thousands of women, children and young people still live in fear of domestic abuse, which by its very nature is pernicious and prolonged.

“This data is always interesting and useful but reinforces the widely held view that Scotland needs to find a better way to record domestic abuse prevalence, as a combination of police, survey and administrative data.

“Until we do that, reliance on reports of ‘incidents’ will continue to support the myth that domestic abuse is purely ‘incidents’ of physical violence, when we know that this is far from the truth.

“Domestic abuse is an ongoing, 24/7 expression of control and power, sometimes expressed as physical violence but always experienced as emotional/psychological abuse.

“Soon, Scotland’s parliament will have the chance to vote for a pioneering new and specific domestic abuse law that takes into account the broad range of behaviours associated with domestic abuse including emotional, financial, sexual abuse.”