Nearly 1700 crimes recorded under new domestic abuse laws

The Domestic Abuse Act created a single offence including for the first time coercive and controlling behaviours.

Nearly 1700 crimes recorded under new domestic abuse laws Getty Images

Nearly 1700 crimes were recorded in Scotland under new domestic abuse legislation in their first year in force.

The latest national crime statistics cover the first year in which the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 was in effect.

It created a single offence covering all kinds of domestic abuse, including physical violence but also for the first time criminalising coercive and controlling behaviours.

A total of 1681 crimes reported under the legislation in 2019-20 account for a rise in overall non-sexual violent crime of 16%.

But other categories of non-sexual violent crime fell by a combined 5%.

Overall, there was almost no change in recorded crime on last year, increasing by less than 1%.

Crime is down almost a quarter (24%) lower compared to a decade before – and is at one of its lowest levels since 1974, the figures suggest.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “I am pleased that victims of domestic abuse have confidence in the collective actions of Scotland’s police and wider justice and third sector partners, to come forward and report these cases.

“Reports under these new laws, which reflect the reality of many domestic abuse victims, account for the rise in overall non-sexual violence recorded by police last year.

“We must learn from our success in reducing violence on our streets to help keep people safer in their homes, in particular those who are subjected to, or at risk of, domestic abuse.

“That requires not just a government response, but a commitment across families, friends, and colleagues to help tackle the attitudes and behaviours that allow any form of domestic abuse to persist.

“The parliament will soon be considering our further legislative plans to give police and courts powers to remove domestic abusers from victims’ homes.”

Exactly 107 crimes were recorded in the final days of March relating to new coronavirus laws and regulations – these are likely to have a more “significant impact” on next year’s figures, the government said.

Sexual crimes decreased by 1%, with 13,364 recorded in total last year.

It’s the first year since 2008-09 where sexual crimes haven’t increased, though they remain at the second-highest level seen since 1971.

Crimes of dishonesty decreased by 3% to their lowest level since 1971, and crimes like fire-raising and vandalism fell by 1% to the least recorded since 1976.

Other crimes increased by 3% with most of them related to drug possession, crimes against public justice or handling offensive weapons.

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