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Rise in Recorded Domestic Abuse Incidents in Scotland

Police Scotland recorded 65,251 incidents of domestic abuse in 2020-21, an increase of 4% compared to the previous year.

It covers the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. Scotland went into a lockdown due to Covid19 measures on 24 March 2020.

Percentage of incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police which included at least one crime or offence being recorded, by local authority, 2020-21

Domestic abuse recorded by the police does not reveal the incidence of all domestic abuse committed in Scotland, as not all incidents are reported to the police

Domestic Abuse Statistics

Characteristics of victim and accused

  • Gender: 80% of incidents involved a female victim and a male accused. 16% of incidents involved a male victim and a female accused. In the remaining 3% of cases, victim and accused were the same gender
  • Relationship: half (50%) of incidents were between current partners (49% between ex partners, and less than 1% was classed as ‘other’ relationship)
  • Age: people aged 31 to 35 years old had the highest rate per 10,000 population for both victims and accused.

In 64% of the reported cases the victim and/or the accused has previously been involved in a domestic abuse incident.

Most of these violent attacks take place in the home with just under a third of these happening at the weekend.

Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) see domestic abuse as:

“Any form of physical, verbal, sexual, psychological or financial abuse which might amount to criminal conduct and which takes place within the context of a relationship. The relationship will be between partners (married, cohabiting, civil partnership or otherwise) or ex-partners. The abuse may be committed in the home or elsewhere including online”.

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 began on 1 April 2019. Abuse now includes violent, physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse.

The offence can carry maximum of 14 years.

Domestic abuse can include:

  • being threatened
  • name calling
  • controlling what you do, where you go and who you speak to
  • threatening your children
  • not being allowed see your friends and family
  • accusing you of cheating
  • threatening to out your sexual orientation
  • sharing – or threatening to share – intimate images of you with family, friends or work colleagues
  • being hit, kicked, punched, or have objects thrown at you
  • rape, being forced into sexual acts.

How to report domestic abuse

If you, or someone you know, is at risk of domestic abuse, please contact Police Scotland. You can also contact our partner agencies for help.

You can contact us via our online reporting form. If the abuse is ongoing please always phone 101, or 999 in an emergency. 

Or contact Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline on 0800 027 1234.  Support is available 24/7. 

What can I do if this is happening to me? for more information on what to do if you are a victim

Partners and other organisations for information of people who can help

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