The Scottish Government recently released their official statistics for domestic abuse reported by the police in Scotland in 2017/18. These statistics show some interesting facts:
The levels of domestic abuse recorded by the police in Scotland have remained relatively stable since 2011/2012, with around 58,000 to 60,000 incidents or 1.1% of the population being victims of domestic abuse each year.
Not all domestic abuse incidents are followed up with prosecution and in the last year only 44% (26,198) of the incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police resulted in the recording of at least one crime or offence. The most common crime that was recorded as part of a domestic abuse incident in last year was Common Assault, followed by Breach of the Peace. Between them, these two charges accounted for 68% of all crimes or offences recorded as part of a domestic abuse incident.
Although domestic abuse occurs in all stages of life, the largest number of incidents of both victims and accused continues to be within the 26 to 30 year old age group.
Weekends remain the peak time for domestic abuse, with 35% of all incidents occurring on a Saturday or Sunday.
64% of all domestic abuse incidents occurred in one of the party's homes.
The statistics also show a link between the strength of the parties' relationship and domestic abuse. Although domestic abuse still occurs in cases where people are either married or cohabiting, the occurrence of domestic abuse is significantly greater where the parties are either partners, or former partners. It seems therefore that the more committed the relationship, the less likelihood there is of domestic abuse, either during the relationship or upon its break-up.
Although domestic abuse is primarily a criminal matter there are still civil remedies available and these may be appropriate where there are difficulties in establishing the burden of proof required for criminal charges. This is something that most family lawyers should be able to assist with.
Domestic abuse therefore continues to be a major problem in our society. Although the Scottish Government is taking many laudable steps to combat domestic abuse, more still needs to be done. One long-term solution would be to start adding it to the school curriculum. As well as teaching our children about such things as the dangers of drink, drugs and teenage pregnancy, they should be taught that domestic abuse is unacceptable, even if it is something that is normalised in their own household. There may be no instant impact, but if we start teaching our children that domestic abuse is unacceptable, we should see a significant reduction in domestic abuse by the time the current school-aged generation start forming relationships.