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Domestic Abuse Recorded By the Police in Scotland, 1 January - 31 December 2003

DescriptionStatistical bulletin providing annual statistics on incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the Scottish police in 2003. Fifth in the series
ISBN0 7559 3894 1
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateJanuary 28, 2005

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Statistical Bulletin CrJ/2005/2

Published January 2005

DOMESTIC ABUSE RECORDED BY THE POLICE IN SCOTLAND , 1 JANUARY - 31 DECEMBER 2003

A Scottish Executive National Statistics Publication

This document is also available in pdf format (396k)

Contents

1. Introduction
2. Main points
3. Commentary
3.1. Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police
3.2. Incidents of domestic abuse per 100,000 population
3.3. Incidents of domestic abuse by gender of victim and perpetrator
3.4. Level of repeat victimisation
3.5. Incidents of domestic abuse by age of victim and perpetrator
3.6. Incidents of domestic abuse by relationship between victim and perpetrator
3.7. Location of incidents of domestic abuse
3.8. Crimes and offences of domestic abuse, action taken by police
4. Appendix of tables
5. Annex: Notes on statistics used in this bulletin
SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE STATISTICAL SERVICES
Correspondence and enquiries

1. Introduction

This bulletin presents statistics on domestic abuse, based on details of incidents of domestic abuse returned by the eight Scottish police forces in 2003. This is the fifth time such data have been centrally collated. Further details on the background and basis of the statistics are given in the Notes in the Annex.

The statistics presented in this bulletin are described as incidents of domestic abuse reported by the police. The bulletin reports the most serious crime/offence associated with each incident. It should be recognised that the statistics presented in this bulletin cover only the incidents of domestic abuse reported by the police - not all incidents of domestic abuse come to the attention of the police.

In the previous two bulletins, breaches of matrimonial interdicts were counted as crimes. In this year's bulletin, such breaches are included under behaviour not leading to recording a crime or offence.

There has been an increase in unrecorded data items in Strathclyde's return for 2003. This results from the roll-out of a new Vulnerable Persons database, which should eventually lead to an improvement in data accuracy. See paragraph 5.2.4 in the Annex.

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2. Main points
  • The police returned details covering 39,643 incidents of domestic abuse in 2003, a 10 per cent increase compared to the 36,010 incidents recorded in 2001. In contrast to previous years, the majority of incidents recorded in 2003 (52 per cent (20,624)) led to the recording of a crime or offence. This reflects changes in recording practice in Strathclyde and Tayside, where the proportion of incidents recorded as a crime or offence increased from 33 per cent to 42 per cent and from 35 per cent to 67 per cent respectively.
  • The most common crime or offence recorded in 2003 remained the offence of petty assault, 24 per cent (9,444) of all incidents, with breach of the peace, 19 per cent (7,457), the second most common.
  • The overall incidence of domestic abuse reported to the police in Scotland was 784 per 100,000 population.
  • Incidents with a female victim and male perpetrator represented 89 per cent of all incidents of domestic abuse where this information was recorded. This percentage has gradually decreased since 1999 due to more incidents coming to police attention where the victim was male or part of a same sex couple.
  • For those incidents where information was available on whether or not the victim had previously been reported as being a domestic abuse victim, 45 per cent of the cases involved known repeat victimisation.
  • When looking at the incidence per 100,000 population, females are at most risk of being victims of domestic abuse when aged between 22 and 30 and males when aged between 31 and 35.
  • Nearly half of the incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police involved co-habitees or spouses, with slightly more cases recorded relating to co-habitees than to spouses. In 33 per cent of cases, the victim and perpetrator were ex-partners or ex-spouses. In 17 per cent of cases, the victim and perpetrator were in an on-going relationship but were not cohabiting. This pattern is similar to that shown in previous years.
  • The overwhelming majority of incidents of domestic abuse took place in the home (92 per cent of all incidents where the location was recorded). This was more likely if the victim and perpetrator cohabited i.e. were a `spouse' or `co-habitee' (95 per cent of all incidents where location was recorded).
3. Commentary

3.1. Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police

  • The police returned details covering 39,643 incidents of domestic abuse in 2003, a 10 per cent increase compared to the 36,010 incidents recorded in 2002.
  • In contrast to previous years, the majority of incidents recorded in 2003 (52 per cent (20,624)) led to the recording of at least one crime or offence. In 48 per cent of incidents (19,019) no crime or offence was recorded. This reflects changes in recording practice in Strathclyde and Tayside, where the proportion of incidents recorded as a crime or offence increased from 33 per cent to 42 per cent and from 35 per cent to 67 per cent respectively.
  • The most common crime or offence recorded in 2003 was the offence of petty assault, 24 per cent (9,444) of all incidents, followed by breach of the peace at 19 per cent (7,457) of all incidents.
  • Crimes, which are generally regarded as more serious than offences, were recorded in respect of 9 per cent (3,442) of all incidents.
  • Where a crime was recorded, it was most likely to be vandalism, accounting for 3 per cent (1,266) of all incidents, or a crime against public justice (typically bail offences and resisting arrest), also 3 per cent (1,125) of all incidents.

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3.2. Incidents of domestic abuse per 100,000 population

  • The incidence of domestic abuse reported to the police ranged from 1,003 per 100,000 population in Tayside down to 564 in Fife, compared with an overall Scottish incidence of 784 per 100,000 population.
  • The range may be partly explained by differences in police recording of domestic abuse incidents not classed as a crime or offence. However, when these are excluded the range is still substantial. Grampian has the highest incidence (745 per 100,000 population), while Central has the lowest (122 per 100,000 population).
  • There was somewhat less variation between forces in the incidence of cases of domestic abuse which resulted in a referral to the procurator fiscal. These ranged from 309 per 100,000 population in Tayside down to 118 per 100,000 population in Central.

3.3. Incidents of domestic abuse by gender of victim and perpetrator

  • In 2003, the victim was female in 90 per cent of incidents of domestic abuse where the gender of the victim was recorded.
  • The perpetrator was male in 90 per cent of incidents of domestic abuse where a perpetrator's gender was recorded.
  • Incidents with a female victim and male perpetrator represented 89 per cent of all incidents of domestic abuse where this information was recorded. This percentage has gradually decreased since 1999 due to more incidents coming to police attention where the victim was male or part of a same sex couple.

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3.4. Level of repeat victimisation

  • For those incidents where information was available on whether or not the victim had previously been reported as being a domestic abuse victim, about 45 per cent of the cases involved known repeat victimisation.
  • Where the number of previous incidents was known, 45 per cent of cases involved a single previous incident, 29 per cent of cases involved two or three previous incidents, 12 per cent of cases involved four or five previous incidents, 9 per cent of cases involved between six and ten previous incidents and 5 per cent of victims had been reported as a victim on 11 or more previous occasions.

3.5. Incidents of domestic abuse by age of victim and perpetrator

  • The most frequent age group for victims is 31-35 for females, and 41-50 for males. For perpetrators, the most frequent age group for both females and males is 41-50.
  • When looking at the incidence per 100,000 population, females are at most risk of being victims of domestic abuse when aged between 22 and 30 and males when aged between 31 and 35.
  • The age of a victim of an incident of domestic abuse is likely to be very similar to the age group of the perpetrator; tending to be either in the same age group as the perpetrator or in the age group immediately below.

3.6. Incidents of domestic abuse by relationship between victim and perpetrator

  • Nearly half of the incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police involved co-habitees or spouses, with slightly more cases recorded relating to co-habitees than to spouses. In 33 per cent of cases, the victim and perpetrator were ex-partners or ex-spouses. In 17 per cent of cases, the victim and perpetrator were in an on-going relationship but were not cohabiting. This pattern is similar to that shown in previous years.
  • In 33 per cent of cases where the relationship is known, the victim and perpetrator were ex-partners or ex-spouses. In 17 per cent of cases, the victim and perpetrator were in an on-going relationship but were not cohabiting. This pattern is similar to that shown in previous years.

pie chart

3.7. Location of incidents of domestic abuse

  • The overwhelming majority of incidents of domestic abuse took place in the home (92 per cent of all incidents where the location was recorded). This was more likely if the victim and perpetrator cohabited i.e. were a `spouse' or `co-habitee' (95 per cent of all incidents where location was recorded).
  • In all other relationships, excluding those who were a 'spouse' or 'co-habitee', the proportion of incidents taking place in a home dropped to 90 per cent or less of all incidents where location was recorded. This is a very similar pattern to that observed in previous years.
  • Incidents of domestic abuse generally took place within the victim's home (including the joint home when the victim and perpetrator cohabited), regardless of the relationship between victim and perpetrator.

3.8. Crimes and offences of domestic abuse, action taken by police

  • In 53 per cent of crimes or offences recorded in Scotland following an incident of domestic abuse where the resulting police action was recorded, the case was referred to the procurator fiscal with a view to charges being brought against the offender. This is significantly down on the 66 per cent recorded in 2002, but this decrease reflects the change in recording practice in Strathclyde and Tayside, which have recorded a higher proportion of incidents as crimes or offences but referred a lower proportion of these cases to the procurator fiscal.
  • In 2003, in 6 per cent of cases a police warning was given; 26 per cent of cases involved some other type of action and in 15 per cent of cases no further action was taken.
  • The proportion of crimes and offences of domestic abuse referred to the procurator fiscal varied considerably. In Grampian the proportion was 19 per cent, in Dumfries and Galloway 27 per cent, while the proportions in Central, Fife, and Northern were 97 per cent or above. This variation, however, reflects the differences in police practice in recording a crime or offence following an incident of domestic abuse ( see Note 5.2.5.). In general, police forces recording a higher proportion of incidents of domestic abuse as a crime or offence tend to refer lower proportions of these cases to the procurator fiscal.
  • There was less variation between forces in the proportion of all incidents of domestic abuse which resulted in referral to the procurator fiscal.
4. Appendix of tables

Table 1: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by police force area, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 1(a): Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police, as a percentage of total incidents, Scotland, 1999-2003
Table 2: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by police force area per 100,000 population, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 3: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by police force area and victim's gender, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 3(a): Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by police force area and victim's gender where recorded, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 4: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police, by gender of victim and perpetrator, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 4(a): Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by police, by gender of victim and perpetrator as a percentage of total incidents, where gender of victim and perpetrator are known, Scotland, 1999-2003
Table 5: Domestic abuse where incidents against that victim had previously been recorded, by police force area, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 6: Domestic abuse where incidents against that victim had previously been recorded, by police force area. Number of previous incidents, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 7: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police, age and gender distribution of victims, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 7(a): Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police by age distribution, as a percentage of total incidents, where age of victim known, Scotland, 1999-2003
Table 8: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police, age and gender distribution of perpetrators, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 8(a): Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police by age distribution of perpetrators, as a percentage of total incidents, where age of perpetrator known, Scotland, 1999-2003
Table 9: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police. Age distribution of victims and perpetrators, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 10: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police. Relationship between victim and perpetrator, by sex of victim and perpetrator, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 10(a): Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police. Relationship between victim and perpetrator, as a percentage of total incidents, where relationship known, Scotland, 1999- 2003
Table 11: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police. Relationship between victim and perpetrator by location of incident, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 11(a): Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police. Relationship between victim and perpetrator by location of incident, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 12: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police, by location of incident, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 13: Action taken by the police against identified perpetrators of crimes or offences of domestic abuse cleared up by the police, by police force area, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 14: Perpetrators of domestic abuse reported to the procurator fiscal, as a percentage of crimes and offences of domestic abuse cleared up where action taken is known, by police force area, 1 January - 31 December 2003
Table 15: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police and rate per 100,000 population, by council area, 1 January - 31 December 2003