Annex 2: Data sources and quality
The creation of Police Scotland has altered the way in which domestic abuse data has been collected. Prior to 1 April 2013, each legacy police force had a bespoke system to collect the data required. Between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014, the interim Vulnerable Persons Database (iVPD) system was rolled out to the then 14 police divisions in Scotland. From 1 April 2014 onwards, all domestic abuse data was collected through the iVPD.
To reflect these changes in data collection, tables and figures in this bulletin are presented with clear breaks in the time series between 2013-14 and 2014-15. The break is denoted by a dashed line and labelled to highlight the change to the data source. Caution should be exercised when making comparisons over time and when interpreting variation in the number of incidents recorded across years.
The data in this bulletin covers the current 13 police divisions in Scotland (across all 32 local authorities). Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire & Moray police divisions merged together to form the North East police division in January 2016.
The data presented in this bulletin is a snapshot of domestic abuse incidents recorded on the iVPD at the end of the financial year.
6.5. Process of logging an incident
When a victim and/or witness makes initial contact with the police regarding a domestic abuse incident, Police Scotland log the incident in their System for Tasking and Operational Resource Management (STORM), Police Scotland's national command and control system.
STORM is largely used for resource allocation purposes. Depending on the information supplied and the outcome of additional enquiries, the incident may result in the creation of one or more crime reports on the relevant crime management system (CMS).
Once the police have assessed the incident, they determine if a vulnerable person record is to be set up in iVPD. The purpose of the iVPD is to collect information on people who are deemed to be in a vulnerable situation, to ensure that any concerns for the victim (or any other person subject of concern) are assessed and appropriate actions are taken.
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.
It is important to recognise that amendments to crime and offence records may occur following submission of figures by Police Scotland to the Scottish Government. This may be due to the reclassification of crimes into different crime groups or, no crime being established after further investigation by police into the originally reported offence.
6.6. Additional information on the trend data
In addition to this, there has been an increase since 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% in 2016-17, to 10,391 or 17% in 2017-18, to 12,999 or 21% in 2019-20).
Police Scotland advised 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.
Whilst this change may also have had an effect on the number of domestic abuse incidents recorded by the police, 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 since 2017-18 remained similar to all years back to 2011-12.
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