Annex 1: Data Sources and Definitions
5.1. A statistical collection on domestic abuse (previously referred to as domestic violence) was introduced in 1999. The definition of domestic abuse used by Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) is:
‘Any form of physical, verbal, sexual, psychological or financial abuse which might amount to criminal conduct and which takes place within the context of a relationship. The relationship will be between partners (married, cohabiting, civil partnership or otherwise) or ex-partners. The abuse can be committed in the home or elsewhere including online’.
5.2. The main Scottish Government Statement of Administrative Sources covers all sources of administrative data used by Scottish Government statisticians. This statement can be found on the Scottish Government website at: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/About/StatementAdminSources
A separate statement of administrative sources is available for police statistics via the following link: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/AdminSourcesPolice.
5.3. 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, a new iVPD (interim Vulnerable Persons Database) system was rolled out to the then 14 Police Divisions in Scotland. From 1st April 2014 onwards, all domestic abuse data was collected through the iVPD.
5.4. Due to the changes in Data Collection, tables and figures are presented with clear breaks in the time series between 2013-14 and 2014-15. As such, some caution should be exercised in interpreting the statistics on the number of incidents recorded across years.
5.5. In addition to this, there was an increase in 2017-18 in the number and proportion of incidents where no information was recorded on the characteristics of the victim and/or the accused (from 4,522 or 8% to 10,391 or 17%).
5.6. Police Scotland advise that a procedural change was made immediately prior to 2017-18 whereby for certain non-criminal incidents of domestic abuse (i.e. where both parties were believed to have an equal involvement), details were no longer recorded for a specific victim or a specific accused. Prior to this, two incidents may have been recorded treating one party as the victim and the other as the accused and the second for the reverse position.
5.7. Whilst this change may also have had an effect on the number of domestic abuse incidents recorded by the police in 2017-18, the impact of this cannot be quantified. However, this change in procedure only relates to a very specific set of circumstances for a domestic abuse incident and the actual number of incidents of domestic abuse recorded in 2017-18 remained very similar to all years back to 2011-12.
Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018
5.8. The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 received Royal Assent on the 9th March 2018 and came into force on 1st April 2019. The Act created a new offence of abusive behaviour as a course of conduct towards a partner or ex-partner. This will impact on the 2019-20 reporting year (i.e. the year immediately following the statistics presented in this bulletin).
5.9. Prior to the 1st April 2019, any criminal act which formed part of a domestic abuse incident (such as a Common assault or Threatening or abusive behaviour) was included within the statistics under the relevant crime or offence. From the 1st April 2019, where there is evidence of domestic abuse as a course of conduct, a crime of domestic abuse will now be recorded. For most crime and offence types, existing common law and statutory offences will continue to be recorded in addition to the new crime of domestic abuse so, for example, where an assault occurs as part of a course of conduct amounting to domestic abuse, this will continue to be recorded as an assault (in addition to the crime of domestic abuse). There are a small number of exceptions (in particular the offence of Threatening or abusive behaviour), which will be included within the new crime.
5.10. This means that there will be a discontinuity to the time series between 2018-19 and 2019-20 for some offence types. This will also impact on other measures such as the number and proportion of domestic abuse incidents that include the recording of a crime or offence. Further information on this change will be provided in the 2019-20 bulletin.
Review of administrative data source
5.11. As described above, the iVPD has been used to produce the Domestic Abuse Official Statistics since 2014-15. Police Scotland use the iVPD to record information about individuals who are, or are perceived to be, experiencing some form of adversity and/or situational vulnerability which may impact on their current or future wellbeing. Its primary function is to support the day-to-day operational procedures of Police Scotland.
5.12. In addition to the iVPD, Police Scotland also record domestic abuse-related activity in a separate system, known as STORM (System for Tasking and Operational Resource Management). STORM is the national command and control system, where all 999 or 101 calls to the police are logged and actioned. As of 2018-19, STORM has been operational across the whole of Scotland, meaning there is now a single national IT system which captures all incidents which Police Scotland deal with (including those relating to domestic abuse).
5.13. Given the above developments, and our commitment to continuously improve the value of these statistics, we are working with Police Scotland to investigate the approach taken to produce this information, including the impact of the new legislation. We will provide further updates on changes to the production process through the ScotStat network (https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/scotstat).
Police Scotland Quarterly Management Information Reports:
5.14. Police Scotland publishes management information on the number of incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police. This is presented within their Quarterly Management Information Reports, which are available from the ‘Our Performance’ section of Police Scotland’s website: http://www.scotland.police.uk/about-us/our-performance/.
5.15. These reports are produced to demonstrate Police Scotland’s commitment to transparency (alongside other regular reporting activity to the Scottish Police Authority). The information within these reports is presented on a cumulative quarterly basis, with the first quarter of a reporting year containing 3 months of data (from April to June), the second containing 6 months of data (from April to September) etc. The reports are typically published within 2 months of the period to which they refer.
5.16. The Quarterly Management Information Reports make clear to users that the data they contain on incidents of domestic abuse is based on the Administrative Data available to Police Scotland at that time and not the Official Statistics. The annual Official Statistics published by the Scottish Government on domestic abuse are based on management information which has undergone further quality assurance work, including additional dialogue with Police Scotland, in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
5.17. In one criminal incident, several crimes or offences may occur - e.g. an accused may assault their spouse and damage their car in the process. In this example, crimes of vandalism and assault would be recorded. Statistics in this bulletin either relate to the number of incidents recorded or the number of incidents with at least one crime or offence committed.
5.18. Incidents in this bulletin are counted against the year in which they are recorded by Police Scotland on the iVPD system. 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.
Recording Crimes & Offences:
5.19. Contraventions of Scottish criminal law are divided for statistical purposes into crimes and offences. The term “crime" is generally used for the more serious criminal acts; the less serious are termed "offences". The distinction is made only for statistical reporting purposes and has no impact on how the police investigate reports of criminal activity. The "seriousness" of the offence is generally related to the maximum sentence that can be imposed.