Annex 4: Validation
6.8. Reporting of incidents and quality assurance of domestic abuse statistics
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. However, in conjunction with the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS), these statistics help to assess the extent and impact of domestic abuse in Scotland. There are a number of reasons for domestic abuse being under reported, including victims experiencing fear and shame as a result of the incident. Under reporting may also be caused by a perpetrator physically preventing a victim reporting the domestic abuse.
Challenging domestic abuse is a high priority for both Police Scotland and COPFS. As such, they have a Joint Protocol outlining the procedures and practices to follow when dealing with incidents of domestic abuse. The protocol is available on Police Scotland website.
The data presented in this publication is drawn from an administrative system. Although care is taken when processing, quality assuring and analysing the data, administrative data is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system.
This data goes through a process of quality assurance in which figures are checked against previous years and comparable sources. Anything unusual or which 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.
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, in line with the Scottish Government's guidance on Producing Official Statistics.
Whilst Police Scotland aims to 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'.
The statistics provided in the data return for this publication prior to 2014-15 have highlighted the different ways in which legacy police 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.
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. Annex 2 provides more information on how the incidents are logged in Police Scotland's systems.
6.9. Historical changes in methodology
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 therefore 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.
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.