Domestic abuse: statistics recorded by the police in Scotland - 2013/14 and 2014/15

This Official Statistics publication presents statistics on incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police in Scotland in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

This document is part of a collection

2. Background

2.1. Statistics on domestic abuse are used to inform the Scottish Government's Strategy for Justice in Scotland, and National Outcome 9 - 'we live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger'.

2.2. These statistics are also used by a wide range of stakeholders to monitor trends, for policy research and development, and for research purposes. Further information on users and uses of the statistics is available in Annex 6 of this bulletin.

2.3. The 'Domestic Abuse Recorded by the Police in Scotland' annual statistical bulletin forms part of a series of bulletins produced by the Scottish Government on the criminal justice system, which can be found at

2.4. The Police Service of Scotland (referred to throughout this report as Police Scotland) is responsible for operational policing in Scotland and is held to account by the Scottish Police Authority. The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 changed the policing landscape in Scotland, replacing the previous eight police forces, the Scottish Police Services Authority and the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency from 1st April 2013. The new statistics set out in this bulletin for 2013-14 and 2014-15 covers the two year period following the establishment of Police Scotland.

2.5. The creation of Police Scotland has altered the way in which domestic abuse data has been collected. Prior to 1st April 2013, each legacy force had a bespoke system to collect the data required. Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014, the iVPD (Interim Vulnerable Person Database) was rolled out to the 14 Police Divisions in Scotland. From 1st April 2014 onwards, all data came from the iVPD. In summary:

  • 2012-13 (and previous years) - Data collected from the eight legacy systems
  • 2013-14 - Data collected from the iVPD (approx. 15%) and from legacy systems (approx. 85%)
  • 2014-15 - Data collected from the iVPD

2.6. As information for 2013-14 and 2014-15 flowed into the new iVPD database, Police Scotland identified some issues with the data (detailed in section 2.7). As a result, Police Scotland are taking forward actions to improve their data, including enhancements to the functionality of the iVPD database. Not all of these changes could be retrospectively applied to the 2013-14 and 2014-15 data.

With further work planned to improve the information collected by the iVPD, the UK Statistics Authority has agreed to a recommendation from Scotland's Chief Statistician that these statistics will be published as Official Statistics, rather than National Statistics.

We will continue to work with Police Scotland as they progress work on their database processes and we will re-visit our position on the designation of these statistics once this work has concluded.

Correspondence between Scotland's Chief Statistician and the UK Statistics Authority is available on the UK Statistics Authority's website (see letters from 16th September 2015 and 5th October 2015) at

2.7. Information on the data issues referred to in Section 2.6 above is detailed below:

  • Crimes and Offences - No statistics are available for crime codes for this publication. When the iVPD was originally rolled out, it was not possible to extract crime codes due to how the crime and offence data were related to the perpetrator data. A workaround for this issue has now been added to the iVPD and hence, future editions of this publication will provide information on crime codes.
  • Relationships - The iVPD does not currently collect relationship status between victim and perpetrator. This has two impacts on the data in this bulletin.

The first is that we are unable to publish the information on relationship (e.g. spouse, partner, ex-partner etc.).

The second is that we have no easy way to validate individual incidents recorded by the police. In legacy systems, we used relationship to add evidence that an incident is a true domestic abuse case. Without relationship information, we rely instead on the Police Officer entering details of an incident correctly into the system (e.g. two brothers fighting is not an incident of domestic abuse in Scotland). Police Scotland takes domestic abuse very seriously and Annex 1 and Annex 2 provide more information on the definition and quality of the statistics in this bulletin including details of the Joint Protocol on domestic abuse between Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).

Police Scotland are currently working to implement the capture of information on relationships into the iVPD with the goal of being able to produce relationship information for future editions of this publication.

  • Action - This publication does not contain information on the 'action' taken by Police Scotland for incidents of domestic abuse. Officers are instructed to record full details of all actions taken at the scene and the final outcome of their attendance i.e. custody, no crime, advocacy referral etc. Details on all actions taken are entered as 'free text' and therefore, it has not been possible to aggregate these for this publication. The Scottish Government and Police Scotland will look into the best way to produce information on action taken for future publications.
  • Repeat Victims/Perpetrators - Traditionally, each legacy force maintained its own domestic abuse database and could use their system to identify repeat victims and perpetrators in their area. As we have moved to a new iVPD system, there are no historical links available. In time, we will be able to identify repeat victims and perpetrators within the iVPD database and hence future editions of this publication will revisit this data with the aim to publish it in an accurate and structured way.
  • Location of Incident - Location of the incident is recorded on the iVPD. During quality assurance of the data by Police Scotland and the Scottish Government, a number of data quality issues were raised. The Scottish Government and Police Scotland will continue to analyse this data in line with other checks on the iVPD and will aim to publish, quality permitting, location information in next year's publication.
  • Missing Data - Due to the changes with the data collection using the new iVPD system, the numbers of 'missing' values has increased for some variables (see Section 6.14 for more details of why data is missing). The issue of missing data is important to both the Scottish Government and Police Scotland in order to keep a clear and accurate picture of domestic abuse. As a result, the Scottish Government is working with Police Scotland with the aim to minimise the quantity of missing data. Statisticians from both organisations are working together to establish the effect of missing data and how best to report on it in future editions of this bulletin. The percentage of 'missing' data for the last three years is highlighted below for key variables:






Victim's gender




Perpetrator's gender




Gender of victim and/or perpetrator




Victim's age




Perpetrator's age




2.8. Due to the changes in Data Collection and the number of missing data, throughout this bulletin, tables and figures are presented with clear breaks in the time series between 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15. As such, some caution should be exercised in interpreting the statistics on the number of incidents recorded across years.

2.9. Incidents in this bulletin are counted against the year in which they are recorded by Police Scotland. Not all incidents are reported to the police immediately following their occurrence. As such each year's figures on incidents of domestic abuse will include a proportion of incidents committed in earlier years.

2.10. The data for 2013-14 was compiled at a later stage than previous years. Traditionally the data is collected and delivered to the Scottish Government in June, three months after the end of the reporting year. The 2013-14 data was supplied in March the following year. This delay could, in theory, affect the number of incidents as police management systems are constantly updated throughout the year as more information about incidents and cases is gathered and analysed. It is likely that this change will only have minimal impact as the data is grouped by the year the incident was recorded by the police, not the year of occurrence (Section 2.9).


Email: Alan Sloan

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