More than 1300 domestic abuse cases recorded in six months

The Domestic Abuse Act came into force in April last year.

Police have recorded more than 1300 cases of domestic abuse since new laws covering coercive and controlling behaviour were introduced, the force has said.

The Domestic Abuse Act came into effect in Scotland in April 2019, making emotional and psychological abuse an offence for the first time.

Since the law change, which created a single offence for abusive behaviour, 1313 incidents were recorded by Police Scotland between April and December.

Women were the victims in 1234 of the cases, according to the force’s report, with men the victims in the remaining 79 incidents.

Although the police figures do not record how many people have been prosecuted for the new offences, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told a Holyrood committee in November that 13 people had been convicted and several other cases were in motion.

The legislation, brought in by the Scottish Government, targeted abusers who control their victims by isolating them from their friends and family, or restrict their finances.

Offenders convicted of domestic abuse can be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison.

Deputy chief constable Fiona Taylor said: “Our officers attend around 60,000 domestic abuse incidents every year – an average of one every nine minutes.

“Domestic abuse has a devastating effect on individuals, on families and on children – who are also often victims of these abusive behaviours.

“We are committed to bringing offenders to justice and continually improving how we respond to domestic abuse and work with a wide range of partners to provide support for victims and to improve our response.”

Police Scotland said since December 2018, 18,500 officers and staff have received online training on domestic abuse and the new offence, while 7500 have received enhanced training in person.

A further 6,500 are scheduled to receive the face-to-face training in the coming months.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “While these quarterly figures are provisional, we welcome the early indication that Scotland’s new domestic abuse laws are encouraging victims to come forward and report these crimes, while providing officers with greater powers to target those who engage in coercive or controlling behaviour towards partners or ex-partners.”

He added: “We are determined to build on the marked reduction in crime, including violent crime, over the last decade in Scotland, and the improvements in the public’s feelings of safety in their local areas.

“That is why we continue to invest in prevention, responsive policing and local partnerships to help individuals and communities to stay safe, while also improving how Scotland’s justice system and wider public services respond to and support those who do fall victim to crime.”

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