Publication - Statistics

Domestic abuse: statistics recorded by the police in Scotland - 2019/20

Characteristics of victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse incidents recorded by the police in Scotland in 2019/20.

Domestic abuse: statistics recorded by the police in Scotland - 2019/20
2. Domestic abuse incidents in Scotland

2. Domestic abuse incidents in Scotland

2.1. Incidents of domestic abuse

The police recorded 62,907 incidents of domestic abuse in 2019-20, an increase of 4% compared to the previous year (Figure 1 & Table 1). This is the fourth year in a row this figure has shown an increase.

Of the 62,907 incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police in 2019-20, 40% (25,420) included the recording of at least one crime or offence[8] (compared to 41% in 2018-19) (Figure 1 & Table 1). The remaining 60% (37,487) did not include the recording of a crime or offence. Section 2.3 provides information on incidents which do not include a crime or offence.

Figure 1: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police, 2009-10 to 2019-20
Line chart showing number of incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police over time

62,907 domestic abuse incidents were recorded by the police in 2019-20.

Of these, two-fifths (40%) included the recording of at least one crime or offence.

Note: See Annex 2 for information on the change in data source between 2013-14 and 2014-15.

2.2. Incidents which included a crime or offence

For those domestic abuse incidents that included the recording of at least one crime or offence in 2019-20, the most frequently recorded was Common assault, accounting for 34% of all crimes and offences. This was followed by Breach of the peace etc. which accounted for 26% of all crimes and offences. Breach of the peace etc. includes Threatening or abusive behaviour and Stalking (24% and 2% of all crimes and offences respectively) (Figure 2 & Table 2).

Figure 2: Most frequently recorded crimes and offences as part of incidents of domestic abuse, 2019-20
Bar chart showing most frequently recorded crime and offences as part of domestic abuse incidents

Common assault was the most frequently recorded offence for incidents of domestic abuse.

Note: An incident can have multiple crimes associated with it.

Following the enactment of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 on 1 April 2019, crimes recorded under the Act accounted for 4% of crimes and offences recorded as part of a domestic abuse incident in 2019-20. These amounted to 1,461 crimes recorded under the Act.

See Section 1.2 on statistical impact for further information on how crimes and offences might have changed due to the introduction of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018.

2.3. Incidents which did not include a crime or offence

In 2019-20, 60% of domestic abuse incidents within the interim Vulnerable Persons Database (iVPD) did not include the recording of at least one crime or offence. This reflects the definition of domestic abuse used by Police Scotland, which is not restricted to behaviour where criminal conduct has been identified and recorded.

The iVPD itself is not a crime recording system. Instead, it aims to collate disparate pieces of information about incidents into a single file, allowing officers to build a narrative about people who have reported or been involved in an incident with a domestic abuse element.

Further information on incidents which did not include a crime or offence

In 2016-17, Scottish Government statisticians reviewed a sample of domestic abuse incidents which did not include the recording of at least one crime or offence, to provide users with additional information on the circumstances of these incidents. Four hundred incidents from 2016-17 were randomly selected from the iVPD and a synopsis of each case was recorded. The findings, presented below, should be treated as a broad indication of the characteristics of these incidents. They are not an exact measure, given the associated possibility of sampling error and wide range of behaviours covered.

Around half of these incidents (52%) in 2016-17 were based on some form of argument between partners or ex-partners that excluded any reference to a physical confrontation or threatening behaviour. Of these cases, around two-thirds include one of the partners/ex-partners contacting the police, whilst in around 30% of cases a third party or other witness did so. A quarter of cases that refer to some form of argument include one of the parties contacting the police as they wanted the other person to leave.

Around a fifth of these incidents (19%) were based on concern about the communication or attempted communication of one partner/ex-partner towards the other (excluding any reference to an argument or a specific crime or offence). In almost all these cases it was one of the partners/ex-partners that contacted the police. This involved a range of different incidents, including frequent references to unwanted communication or attempted communication, which could be through electronic means (text messages, phone call) or in person. This category also includes incidents where one party was concerned about what their partner/ex-partner has said about them (sometimes to third parties).

Beyond the incidents above, the other cases cover a diverse range of situations. Some included the police being contacted for advice or an individual raising concerns without reference to any specific incident (7% of the sample). In some instances the police were contacted by one partner/ex-partner out of concern for the wellbeing of the other party (3%) or by someone wishing to retrieve their belongings from a partner/ex-partner (3%).

Finally, some incidents recorded in the iVPD in 2016-17 were best described as situations in which it is inferred that a crime or offence may have taken place (13% of the sample). In most of these cases (11% of the sample) further investigation determined either that a crime or offence had not occurred (for example by the police reviewing the content of text messages that were alleged to be threatening) or there was insufficient evidence for the police to record a crime or offence. In the other cases (2% of the sample), further discussion with Police Scotland determined that these incidents did include a crime or offence. This splits into cases where a crime or offence had been recorded in crime management systems[9] but not added to the iVPD or where no crime or offence had been recorded at all.

2.4. Incidents of domestic abuse by local authority

The number of police recorded domestic abuse incidents varied at the local authority level. Between 2018-19 and 2019-20, the majority (27) of local authorities recorded an increase in domestic abuse incidents, whereas five recorded a decrease (Table 3).

In 2019-20, the highest percentages of incidents of domestic abuse that also included the recording of at least one crime or offence were in Dumfries & Galloway (54%) and Moray (51%), whilst the lowest were in Na h-Eileanan Siar (29%), Highland and South Lanarkshire (both 33%) (Figure 3 & Table 4).

Figure 3: Percentage of incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police which included at least one crime or offence being recorded, by local authority, 2019-20
Chart showing domestic abuse incidents by local authority with at least 1 recorded crime or offence

2.5 Incidents of domestic abuse per 10,000 population

Taking the population of Scotland as at mid-year 2019, there were 115 recorded incidents of domestic abuse per 10,000 population in 2019-20. At a local authority level, Dundee City (166), Clackmannanshire (152) and Glasgow City (151) recorded the highest incident rates per 10,000 population. Na h-Eileanan Siar (50), Orkney Islands (53) and Shetland Islands (57) recorded the lowest rates per 10,000 population. (Figure 4 & Table 5).

Figure 4: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police per 10,000 population, by local authority, 2019-20
Chart showing domestic abuse incidents per 10,000 population by local authority

Note: Population estimates are at mid-year 2019 published by the National Records of Scotland.

Characteristics of victim and accused infographic
Infographic showing characteristics of domestic abuse’s victim and accused

Note: Current partner is defined here as spouse/civil partner, partner and co-habitee. Ex-partner is defined as ex-spouse/civil partner and ex-partner.

Info graphic text below

  • Gender: 82% of incidents involved a female victim and a male accused. 15% of incidents involved a male victim and a female accused. In the remaining 3% of cases, victim and accused were the same gender
  • Relationship: just over half (51%) of incidents were between current partners (49% between ex partners, and less than 1% was classed ad ‘other’ relationship)
  • Age: people aged 26 to 30 years old had the highest rate per 10,000 population for victims. People aged 31 to 35 years old had the highest rate per 10,000 population for accused

2.6. Gender of victim & accused

Where the victim's gender was known, the clear majority of victims in 2019-20 (83%) were female. Around four-in-five incidents (82%) of domestic abuse in 2019-20 had a female victim and a male accused. This was the same as in 2018-19.

Again, where the victim's gender was known, 17% of victims in 2019-20 were male. In 2019-20, 15% of domestic abuse incidents involved a male victim and a female accused. This decreased slightly from 16% in 2018-19.

In the remaining 3% of domestic abuse incidents, the victim and accused were the same gender. This figure has remained stable over several years (Figure 5 & Table 6).

Figure 5: Gender of victim and accused 1, where known, 2009-10 to 2019-20
Line chart showing domestic abuse incidents by gender of victim and accused where known

The gender of victims has been consistent over time, with the majority of victims being female.

1 The figure only displays incidents where gender of victim and accused is known. See Annex 4 for more details on missing data.

Note: See Annex 2 for information on the change in data source between 2013-14 and 2014-15.

2.7. Relationship between victim & accused

In 2019-20, just over half (51%) of domestic abuse incidents, where the relationship[10] between the victim and accused was known, were between current partners. 49% of incidents were between ex-partners (Table 7).

2.8. Age of victim & accused

In 2019-20, the 26 to 30 year old age group had the highest rate per 10,000 population for victims (272 incidents recorded per 10,000 population) (Table 8).

Female victims aged 26 to 30 had the highest rate (468) of incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police per 10,000 population. Among male victims, the highest rate of incidents of domestic abuse recorded per 10,000 population, was for those aged 31 to 35 years, where the rate was 87 incidents recorded per 10,000 population (Figure 6 & Table 8).

In 2019-20, the 31 to 35 years old age group had the highest incident rate per 10,000 population for those accused (257 incidents recorded per 10,000 population) (Table 9).

The 31 to 35 year old age group had the highest rate of domestic abuse among male accused (432 incidents recorded per 10,000 population). Among female accused, the 31 to 35 year old age group had the highest rate (87 incidents recorded per 10,000 population) (Figure 6 & Table 9).

Figure 6: Gender and age of victim and accused 1, where known, 2019-20
Chart showing domestic abuse incidents by gender and age of victim and accused where known

26 to 30 year old age group had the highest rate per 10,000 population for victims.

1 The figure only displays incidents where gender of victim and accused is known. See Annex 4 for more details on missing data.

Note: Population estimates are at mid-year 2019 published by the National Records of Scotland.

2.9. Victim & accused repeat analysis

The iVPD enables the identification of a victim or accused that has previously been entered into the system for domestic abuse. A victim or accused can appear multiple times in the database in any one year, each classified as a separate incident.

As the iVPD was introduced and rolled out across the then 14 police divisions during 2013-14, the first and any subsequent reference to any victim or accused in the repeat categories below only refers to whether they were involved in an incident of domestic abuse from 2013-14 (part year depending on divisional roll out[11]) and not in any years prior to the introduction of the iVPD.

In 2019-20, 21% (13,486) of domestic abuse incidents did not include sufficient information to confirm one way or the other whether at least one of either the victim or accused had previously been recorded in an incident of domestic abuse. For 59% (29,367) of the remaining 49,421 incidents, both the victim and accused had previously been recorded in an incident of domestic abuse – though these previously recorded incidents may have involved different partners/ex-partners. For 27% (13,382) of incidents, neither the victim nor the accused were found on the iVPD. In 14% (6,672) of incidents there was a mix of results for the victim and accused (i.e. only one of the victim or accused had previously been recorded) (Table 10 & Figure 7).

Figure 7: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police, by repeat victim/accused analysis, where known, 2019-20
Chart showing domestic abuse incidents by repeat victim/accused analysis where known

In just under three-fifths (59%) of incidents the victim or accused had previously been recorded in a domestic abuse incident.

2.10. Location of incidents

In 2019-20, around nine-in-ten (88%) domestic abuse incidents occurred in a home or dwelling. This can be split into 39% of incidents that occurred within the victim's own home, 15% that occurred within a joint home and 5% that occurred in the accused's home. Around three-in-ten (29%) incidents occurred in an 'other dwelling'.

The remaining 12% of incidents occurred in the street (5%), licensed premises (1%) or an 'Other' location (6%) (Table 11 & Figure 8).

Figure 8: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police, by location, 2019-20
Bar chart showing incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police by location

Around two-in-five (39%) incidents of domestic abuse occurred in the victim's home.

2.11. Day/month of occurrence

The following section is based on the date the incident of domestic abuse occurred, rather than when it was recorded by the police[12].

Recorded incidents of domestic abuse were higher on a Saturday or Sunday than on any other day of the week. These two days together account for just over a third (34%) of incidents in 2019-20 (Figure 9), similar to the proportion in 2018-19 (35%). The remaining two-thirds (66%) are spread fairly evenly from Monday to Friday.

When looking at the month that incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police occurred in 2019-20, no clear pattern emerges from the data, with incidents fairly evenly spread out across the year.

Tables for incidents by month are available within the 'Supporting files'.

Figure 9: Incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police, by the day of the week the incident occurred, 2019-20
Chart showing proportion of domestic abuse incidents by the day of the week the incident occurred

34% of recorded incidents of domestic abuse occurred at the weekend in 2019-20.

2.12. Further information on Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 and the nature of crimes recorded by the police

As described in Section 1.2, the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 came into force on 1 April 2019 and created a new offence with respect to the engaging by a person in a course of behaviour which is abusive towards their partner or ex-partner.

Where there is evidence of a course of behaviour, new crime codes of Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 (against a male or female victim) have been created. Generally, existing common law and statutory offences will continue to be recorded where appropriate, in addition to the new crimes.

It should be noted that these new crimes under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 relate to a course of behaviour only and therefore do not include all crimes relating to domestic abuse.

Following its enactment on 1 April 2019, crimes recorded under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 accounted for 4% of crimes and offences recorded as part of a domestic abuse incident in 2019-20. These amounted to 1,461 crimes recorded under the Act.

Where the victim and accused's gender was known, the clear majority of crimes recorded under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 in 2019-20 involved a female victim and a male accused (93%). One-in-twenty (5%) had a male victim and a female accused. In the remaining 2% of cases, victim and accused were the same gender.

Where the relationship between the victim and accused was known, just under three-fifths (59%) of Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 crimes were between ex-partners in 2019-20. The remaining two-fifths (40%) of crimes were between current partners.

The 25 to 34 years old age group had the highest rate for victims of Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 crimes (7 crimes recorded per 10,000 population). The 25 to 34 years old age group also had the highest rate for accused of Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 crimes (7 incidents recorded per 10,000 population).

Over half (54%) of crimes under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 occurred in the victim's home in 2019-20, 17% in a joint home and 8% in the accused's home. 15% occurred in another dwelling, whilst small proportions occurred in an 'other' location (3%), or in the street (2%).

A summary table for these findings is provided in the 'Supporting files'.


Contact

Email: Justice_Analysts@gov.scot