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Domestic abuse reports are 'merely the tip of the iceberg', warns Scottish Women's Aid

Holyrood

Domestic abuse reports are 'merely the tip of the iceberg', warns Scottish Women's Aid

New figures showing police reports of domestic abuse reached a ten-year high last year are “merely the tip of the iceberg”, Scottish Women’s Aid has warned.

A new release on domestic abuse recorded by the police in Scotland in 2018-19 found levels have remained relatively stable since 2011-12, with around 58,000 to 61,000 incidents a year.

The police recorded 60,641 incidents of domestic abuse in 2018-19, an increase of two per cent compared to the previous year.

The report, by Scotland’s Chief Statistician, shows common assault was the most common type of crime or offence recorded as part of an incident, accounting for 36 per cent of all crimes and offences recorded, followed by breach of the peace, which made up for 29 per cent.

The statistician said that where gender information was recorded, around four out of every five incidents of domestic abuse in 2018-19 had a female victim and a male accused.

Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women's Aid, said: "With these figures we must bear in mind that reports to police are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to domestic abuse. We know that women are very often reluctant to report for fear of what will happen to them, and to their children. So, while the figure of 60,641 reports is shocking in and of itself, it becomes even more upsetting when you consider it is a fraction of the abuse actually unfolding across Scotland right now.

"Looking at the trend across ten years, we can see that we have much more work to do when it comes to ending domestic abuse in Scotland. It lies with all of us – police, judiciary, services, individuals and the Government – to change the landscape for women and children experiencing this daily fear, including those who never report it to the police.

"We are proud to be in a country that is working hard to reflect women and children's experiences, having passed and began implementing a world-leading new law on domestic abuse. However, now is not the time for complacency and we will continue to call for vigilance.

"For anyone experiencing domestic abuse, or those concerned about someone else, help is always available from local Women’s Aid services and from Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline, available 24/7 on 0800 027 1234."

Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf said: “Domestic abuse exacts a terrible toll on victims and often causes much wider harms, such as impacting on children’s safety and well-being within the family home.

“While these figures are for the year before our domestic abuse laws came into force, the passage of that legislation in 2018 alongside Police Scotland’s ‘Every 9 minutes’ campaign, helped raise awareness of this insidious crime and its many facets and encouraged people to report their experiences.

“Domestic abuse is neither acceptable nor inevitable. We must work collectively – as parents, friends, co-workers and legislators – to bring an end to this blight on society, address underlying attitudes that enable it to persist, call out those who dismiss or minimise its impact, and ensure that perpetrators are dealt with robustly and effectively.”

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