£3m funding for services announced.
The levels of domestic abuse reported in Scotland have increased by 2.5% over the past year.
The figures published today, which cover the two years since the creation of Police Scotland, show that in 2013-14 there were 58,439 incidents of domestic abuse compared to 59,882 in 2014-15.
They also show a rise in the percentage of male victims of domestic abuse – up from 12% in 2005-06 to 20% in 2014-15.
It comes on the same day as the Scottish Government announces £3m funding for specialist services to help both male and female domestic abuse victims.
Advocacy service ASSIST will receive the funding over the next three years to continue their vital support and advocacy services, helping vulnerable female and male victims have the confidence to report crime.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:
“The Scottish Government is committed to tackling the scourge of domestic abuse and helping victims have the confidence to come forward and report it is a hugely important part of that.
“The fact that domestic abuse statistics are remaining relatively steady, despite falling overall recorded crime rates, suggests that those who might have never otherwise come forward are now doing so. I believe this is in no small part to the vital support services available for those in need.
“The work that ASSIST does provides a lifeline for both female and male victims of this terrible crime and makes an invaluable contribution to ensuring access to justice for survivors as it supports them through the court process, which we know can be challenging. That’s why I am delighted to award them this new Scottish Government funding to continue this work for years to come.
“Despite overall falls in crime, more cases involving crimes such as sexual offences and domestic abuse are reaching our courts. During 2013/14 alone there was a 50 per cent increase in the number of cases involving domestic abuse being sent to court and the number of convictions for sexual offences increased by 22 per cent.
“The funding announced today is part of a much wider package of measures we have to provide a vital safety net for the victims of domestic abuse. Earlier this year, the First Minister announced £20m funding to tackle domestic violence and, just a few weeks ago, I launched the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill which will modernise criminal law and strengthen powers for the police, prosecutors and courts to take action against perpetrators of domestic abuse, harassment and sexual offences.
“It’s also important to recognise that male victims often require services that are tailored to their needs, and that these may not be the same as those of female victims. That is why this government was the first to have made provision specifically for male victims of domestic abuse, including funding of over £120,000 this year alone.
“Our police and prosecutors are also doing important work to tackle domestic abuse and sexual violence. Police Scotland’s specialist National Rape Taskforce was introduced to coordinate its work on tackling rape and has a local Rape Investigation Team in every area of the country to provide a dedicated local response, drawing on specialist national teams. Feedback from police is that this is having a real impact in building confidence in reporting. The recently-established Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse scheme is also giving those who have suspicions about their male or female partner the right to know of any information about their past, including a history of domestic abuse.
“Ultimately, our collective efforts show we are continuing to send out a strong message that domestic abuse will not be tolerated in Scotland.”
Mhairi McGowan, Head of Service for ASSIST & Domestic Abuse services at Community Safety Glasgow, said: “We very much welcome this commitment from the Scottish Government to support victims of domestic abuse. Our service supports both female and male victims through the court process and we know how difficult and dangerous domestic abuse can be. It is vital that services supporting victims have a really good knowledge of the risks victims face; of how perpetrators undermine and manipulate all aspects of a victim’s life and of the strength that it takes to put one foot in front of the other and survive it.
“Thankfully, due to work carried out by a range of organisations, victims can come forward with confidence that they will be listened to and their experiences treated seriously. ASSIST has developed from a small city based project in 2004 to now covering nearly 40% of Scotland’s population, thus eliminating the post code lottery across the west of Scotland. We will continue to work in partnership to help deliver the best possible outcomes for victims. Everyone deserves to live a life free from abuse.”
Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said:
“Since the creation of Police Scotland tackling domestic abuse has always been and remains a key priority. We have committed substantial resources to target perpetrators proactively and support victims by the creation of a three-tier response supported by local policing officers, specialist resources and national teams.
“Domestic abuse is a blight on communities across Scotland. Police Scotland engages with partners at the earliest opportunity so we can all work together to prevent further incidents of domestic abuse.
“Of importance, is the work we do with partners such as Assist to support victims of abuse. We welcome this additional funding for Assist, the help and support they provide to victims is invaluable.”