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Domestic Abuse Recorded by the Police in Scotland, 2013-14 & 2014-15

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4. Putting Domestic Abuse in Context

4.1. There are a number of data sources which collect information on domestic abuse in Scotland.

  • The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) provides information on Partner Abuse.
  • As detailed in this publication, Police Scotland record the number of incidents recorded on domestic abuse.
  • The Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) have information on Procurator Fiscal markings and how many charges are reported to courts
  • The Scottish Court Service has data on court proceedings and convictions.
  • Flow of Information

4.2. The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) is a large-scale survey measuring people's experience and perceptions of crime in Scotland. The survey is conducted biennially and based on a representative sample of adults (aged 16 and over), living in private households in Scotland.

In addition to its main findings report, a report examining the prevalence and nature of partner abuse in Scotland is also published. The data presented in this report were collected through a self-completion module of the survey. The 2012/13 survey is the fourth sweep of the SCJS to include a partner abuse questionnaire, with previous data sweeps conducted in 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11.

Findings from the SCJS 2012-13 partner abuse module were published in June 2014: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0045/00455441.pdf

It should be noted that even though the SCJS has a similar definition of domestic abuse to police recorded incidents, there are several differences that will affect the comparability of the data.

  • Most incidents of domestic abuse go unreported to the police for a variety of reasons.
  • The SCJS is a sample of those aged 16+ and in private households. For example adults staying in Care Homes or those aged under 16 will not be in the estimates.
  • The SCJS is capturing the victim's experience of partner abuse. Although the survey is self-completion, some respondents may choose not to disclose information on particular incidents.

4.3. It was estimated that the police came to know around one in five (21%) of the most recent /only incidents of partner abuse experienced in the last 12 months. This was much higher for female victims (32%) than for male victims (9%).

Where the police were not informed, the most prevalent reasons for not reporting the incident were that it was a private matter, that it was too trivial, or that it could be dealt with personally.

The SCJS survey data revealed a notable gender difference in respondents' perception of the incident. Women were more likely than men to view the most recent / only incident of partner abuse as a crime, particularly in relation to physical abuse. Men were more likely to say both forms of abuse (physical and psychological) were 'just something that happens'.

Men were also less likely to view themselves as victims of domestic abuse (based on their understanding of this term). The findings thus highlight notable gender differences in the reporting and perception of partner abuse and in the perception of being a victim.

4.4. In the SCJS, Chart 7 below shows that the proportion of adults reporting any experience of abuse (psychological or physical) has remained the same since 2009-10, and that the proportion of respondents reporting an experience of psychological abuse has remained the same as in 2010-11. There has been a small decrease in the proportion of respondents reporting an experience of physical abuse within the last 12 months (2% in 2010-11 compared to 1% in 2012-13. This may be altered question wording influencing this pattern. More details from the SCJS can be accessed from the 2012-13 SCJS Partner Abuse report here: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0045/00455441.pdf

Chart 7: Risk of experiencing partner abuse (last 12 months only) across survey year, SCJS, Scotland, 2008-09 to 2012-13

Chart 7: Risk of experiencing partner abuse (last 12 months only) across survey year, SCJS, Scotland, 2008-09 to 2012-13

4.5. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) publish management information on the number of charges reported to COPFS and taken forward to the courts with a domestic abuse aggravator attached. Information, along with explanatory notes, is available here: http://www.crownoffice.gov.uk/publications/statistics

4.6. The Scottish Court Service publishes statistics through the Scottish Government on proceedings and convictions. More information on the statistics available are here: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubCriminalProceedings