3. Putting Domestic Abuse in Context
3.1. There are a number of data sources which collect information on domestic abuse in Scotland. These include:
- The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, which provides information on Partner Abuse.
- Police Scotland, who record the number of incidents reported to them on domestic abuse (reported in this publication).
- The Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), who have information on Procurator Fiscal markings and how many charges are reported to courts.
- The Scottish Government publish statistics on proceedings and convictions, which take place in the Scottish courts, through their Criminal Proceedings in Scotland publication.
3.2. The relationship between these sources is summarised in the following diagram.
Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) - Background
3.3. The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey is a large-scale survey measuring people’s experience and perceptions of crime in Scotland. The survey is conducted annually and based on a representative sample of adults (aged 16 and over), living in private households in Scotland.
3.4. The SCJS also provides results on the prevalence and nature of partner abuse in Scotland. The data on partner abuse are collected through a self-completion module of the survey. The latest survey, published in March 2019, includes findings on partner abuse for the period 2016/18.
3.5. 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. These include the fact that:
- i. Most incidents of domestic abuse go unreported to the police. The 2016/18 SCJS found that a fifth (19.2%) of those who experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months stated that the police came to know about the most recent incident.
Further analysis of the SCJS shows that when asked the reasons for not reporting the most recent incident of partner abuse to the police, the most common reasons given were that those involved had dealt with the incident (37%), that the abuse was too trivial/not worth reporting (30%), or the abuse was a private, personal or family matter (27%). This is a consistent finding with previous years.
- ii. The SCJS is a sample of those aged 16+ and in private households. As such, adults staying in care homes or those aged under 16 will not be in the SCJS estimates.
- iii. The SCJS captures the victim’s experience of partner abuse. Although this part of the survey is self-completed, some respondents may choose not to disclose information on particular incidents.
SCJS – Results from the 2016/18 Partner Abuse Module
3.6. Between 2008-09 and 2016/18, the overall risk of experiencing any partner abuse in the last 12 months decreased from 4.2% to 3.0%. The risk of partner abuse in the last 12 months did not change between the 2014/15 and 2016/18 survey sweeps. A higher proportion of women than men experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months, at 3.6% and 2.3% respectively.
3.7. More detailed information, along with explanatory notes, is available at: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/crime-and-justice-survey/publications. Results from the SCJS partner abuse module covering the period 2018/20 are expected to be released alongside the 2019/20 SCJS report.
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service: Background
3.8. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) publish management information on the number of charges reported to COPFS with a domestic abuse aggravator recorded against them. These figures also include the number taken forward to court, dealt with by direct measures (such as a fine), or where no action was taken.
3.9. More detailed information, along with explanatory notes, is available at: https://www.copfs.gov.uk/publications/statistics.
Criminal Proceedings in Scotland: Background
3.10. The Scottish Government publishes statistics on proceedings and convictions, which take place in the Scottish courts, through their Criminal Proceedings in Scotland publication. These statistics are derived from data held on the Criminal History System (CHS), a central database used for the recording of information on persons accused and/or convicted of committing a criminal act. Aggravator codes can be recorded on the CHS by COPFS or the police to provide additional information relating to the nature of a charge. One of these aggravator codes is a domestic abuse identifier. Statistics show the number of people proceeded against and convicted with a domestic abuse identifier recorded, based on the main charge in a proceeding.
3.11. The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 created a statutory aggravation of domestic abuse which came into force in April 2017, and it is used in conjunction with the existing domestic identifier. The statutory aggravation needs to be proved in court, and is taken into account during sentencing, which may result in a higher penalty being given. Figures for the number of convictions with a statutory domestic abuse aggravation are also published in the Criminal Proceedings statistics.
Criminal Proceedings in Scotland: 2017-18 Data
3.12. There were 9,782 convictions where a domestic abuse identifier was recorded against the main charge, a decrease of 10% from 2016-17 (10,836 convictions). This represents the third consecutive fall following a gradual increase between 2008-09 and 2014-15. The most common conviction with a domestic abuse identifier in 2017-18 was Breach of the peace etc. (44%) followed by Common assault (28%) and Crimes against public justice (18%). The vast majority of the breach of the peace-type convictions (88%) were for offences of Threatening or abusive behaviour or Stalking.
3.13. More detailed information, along with explanatory notes, are available from: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubCriminalProceedings.