Domestic abuse reported in Scotland 'declining'

Image caption,
About 85% of the victims were women attacked by men

Domestic abuse in Scotland has dropped for the first time in 10 years, official figures have shown.

According to the Scottish government, the number of reported incidents dropped 4% in 2009/10 compared with the previous year.

Most of the victims were women attacked by men but there were 8,600 incidents of men being attacked by women.

Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil said it was encouraging to see abuse rates decreasing.

The report, published by Scotland's chief statistician, said the overall incidence of domestic abuse recorded by the police in 2009/10 was 1,000 for every 100,000 of the population.

It also said 62% of the incidents recorded by the police in 2009/10 led to a recording of a crime or offence. This was up from 55% of incidents in 2008/9.

The most common offence recorded was minor assault, accounting for 43%, followed by breach of the peace at 33%.

'Despicable behaviour'

Mr Neil said: "Our hard-hitting campaigns broke taboos, got the message out that this behaviour is totally unacceptable and created awareness of the wide-range of help and support for victims.

"It is encouraging to see that reported domestic abuse incidents are now on the decrease and police forces are cracking down on this despicable behaviour.

"We're also pleased that more men are finding the courage to come forward."

A spokesman for Abused Men in Scotland (AMIS) said there were no dedicated support services for domestic abuse male victims in Scotland, despite one in six reported victims being men.

He added: "Police acknowledge they find out about only a fraction of the incidents of domestic abuse against men.

"We could do a lot with a sixth of the available domestic abuse funding to combat the culture of denial in the public services that does not want to hear about the damage done to men and their children by an abusive partner or ex partner."

'Worryingly high'

Women are at most risk of being victims of domestic abuse when they are aged between 22 and 25 and men between 31 and 35, the report said.

The overwhelming majority of incidents of domestic abuse took place in the home, it added.

Almost half of the incidents happened between co-habiting couples or partners and a further 15% between married couples.

The number of attacks on ex-partners or spouses has risen from 30% in 2000/1 to 41% in the past year.

Labour shadow justice secretary Richard Baker said: "The figures are still worryingly high and stand as a yet another reminder that there must be no room for complacency on domestic abuse."

He criticised the Scottish government's plans to scrap prison sentences of less than three months because "68% of those sent to prison for domestic violence get a sentence of less than three months".

Liberal Democrat Justice spokesman Robert Brown said the drop in domestic abuse was a move in the right direction but the number of incidents was "still too high".

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