Domestic abuse: statistics recorded by the police in Scotland - 2017/18

Characteristics of victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse incidents recorded by the police in Scotland.

Annex 2: Quality of the Statistics

Reporting and Quality Assurance of Domestic Abuse Statistics:

6.14 The statistics reported in this bulletin do not reveal the incidence of all domestic abuse committed since not all incidents are reported to the police. In conjunction with the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS), the statistics help to assess the extent and impact of domestic abuse in Scotland. A number of reasons have been found for such under reporting. For example, victims experience fear and shame as common effects of domestic abuse. In addition, under reporting may also be caused by an accused physically preventing a victim reporting the domestic abuse.

6.15 Police Scotland and COPFS have domestic abuse as a high priority. As such, they have a Joint Protocol outlining the procedures and practices to follow when dealing with incidents of domestic abuse. The protocol can be obtained from Police Scotland’s website:

6.16 The data provided by Police Scotland go through a process of quality assurance in which data received are checked against previous years and comparable sources. Anything unusual or which we feel requires further explanation is then fed back to Police Scotland for their attention. Any amendments are carried out and the final data is used to produce a set of data tables which can be used to check the final dataset.

6.17 During the quality assurance checking process, it is possible for errors to be found in data for previous years. While we do not routinely revise figures, we are committed to correcting errors in the data and providing suitable explanations for any changes made to previously published data.

6.18 Whilst Police Scotland record complete information for all incidents, there is some challenge in retrieving and linking the captured information to meet the full data requirements for this publication. As a result some values for certain variables are marked ‘missing’.

6.19 The statistics provided in this data return over the years have highlighted the different ways in which police legacy forces recorded information. In particular, police practice in deciding when the behaviour justifies the recording of a crime or offence may differ. For example, some legacy forces had ruled that no crime or offence should be recorded if no further action was taken e.g. because the victim did not wish any action to be taken. Other forces may have recorded this as a crime or offence.

6.20 With all Police Divisions now using the same iVPD system to record incidents of Domestic Abuse and following the same Police Scotland guidance, inconsistencies in approach may minimise over time.

Changes in Methodology

6.21 2009-10 was the first year in which data was submitted based on the date the incident was recorded. Prior to this, data was returned based on the number of incidents which occurred during that time period. As historic data has never been revised in this publication series, any incidents which occurred in a different time period to the date in which the incident was recorded will have been excluded from the returns.

For example, if an incident occurred during 2007-08 but was recorded during 2008-09, it would have been excluded from 2008-09 (since the date committed is not in the relevant time period), but it would also have been missed out of the 2007-08 data as the submitted data would not have been updated. Hence, the incident would not be reported in the statistics in this publication series and hence contributed to an underestimate. Although this publication series has never revised this information, some legacy forces may have updated their own collections and prepared refreshed data in response to bespoke requests.

6.22 The number of incidents in the bulletins from 2009-10 onwards, is based on the date the incident was recorded. This should give a better reflection of police activity relating to incidents of domestic abuse. By reporting on the date the incidents were committed, we get a snapshot account of the number of incidents of domestic abuse occurring within a particular period. However, by analysing the data based on the date recorded, we can see the trend in reporting incidents of domestic abuse to the police. Hence, if there was an increase in the number of victims who report incidents of domestic abuse to the police sometime after they occurred, this should be reflected in the statistics.


6.23 The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill received Royal Assent on the 9th of March 2018. The Bill creates an offence with respect to the engaging by a person in a course of behaviour which is abusive of the person’s partner or ex-partner. At present, any criminal act which formed part of a domestic abuse incident (such as a common assault or threatening or abusive behaviour) will be included within the statistics under the relevant crime or offence. The Scottish Crime Recording Board is considering how to record the new offence created by the Bill, and statisticians will use the SCOTSTAT network to update users on its decision and any impact this will have on the recording of crime.

6.24 As well as common law, some of the main legislation applicable to domestic abuse is as follows:

Mid-year Population Estimates

6.25 The mid-year estimates used in this publication to calculate the rates per 10,000 population were obtained from the National Records of Scotland (NRS). Further information about these estimates can be found on the NRS website:


Email: Mark Bell

Back to top