16 Days of Action – the picture in Scotland

25 November, 2022

Gender-based violence increased throughout Scotland last year

Police Scotland recorded 65,251 incidents of domestic abuse in 2020-21, an increase of 4% compared to the previous year. This is the fifth year in a row this figure has shown an increase. Police Scotland statistics also highlight that sexual crimes accounted for 5% of all crimes recorded in Scotland in 2020-21 at 13,131.

In 2021-22, 32,776 charges were also reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in Scotland with a domestic abuse identifier. In 2020-21 this total was even higher still, at 33,425 charges. COPFS statistics highlight that most of the charges reported with a domestic abuse identifier are prosecuted in court. The proportion resulting in court proceedings has increased over recent years and is at its highest level since 2013-14.

Increase in reported crimes

There has also been in increase in the number of crimes that have been reported under the recent Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018. Implemented on 1 April 2019, this Act makes engaging in a course of behaviour that is abusive of a partner or ex-partner a criminal offence. It acknowledges in law the effect that psychological and emotional abuse can have on someone and their family, especially if children are involved in the abuse.

Police Scotland recorded crime statistics show that Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 crimes increased by 6% in the year ending September 2022 compared to the year ending September 2021, from 1,716 to 1,822 crimes. More cases are being reported to the Procurator Fiscal under this Act too.

In 2021-22, 1,790 charges were reported under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 (DASA), accounting for 5.5% of all domestic abuse charges reported. This represents an increase of 13% on the 2020-21 total of 1,581 (4.7% of all domestic abuse charges reported).

Unreported incidents
While the above statistics talk of the crime that is reported to the Police, a majority of incidents also go unreported. The most recent Scottish Crime and Justice Survey in 2019/2020 found that approximately 60% of crime overall goes unreported to the police, a proportion similar to previous years. Domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence are areas where there have historically been particular challenges faced by individuals when it comes to reporting. In such a context, it is particularly important for all agencies to unite in their efforts to ensure adequate support is available for individuals.