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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January, 2005, 10:41 GMT
Domestic abuse shows 10% increase
Woman in shadow
Helpline calls increase over the festive period
The number of domestic abuse incidents recorded by police has increased by 10%, according to latest figures.

Almost 40,000 cases were reported in 2003, with statistics suggesting that almost half the victims had suffered domestic abuse in the past.

Police and the Scottish Executive said the rise showed that women - who account for almost 90% of victims - had more confidence to report incidents.

Calls to a domestic abuse helpline reached a record level this year.

During the four weeks after Boxing Day, it received 2,325 calls - an increase of nearly 250 on the same period the year before.

We know that many of the women now seeking help would have just lived with the abuse in the past
Johann Lamont
Deputy Communities Minister

The busiest day was 3 January, when 221 calls for help were made following the extended New Year weekend.

The line, run by Women's Support and Women's Aid, was first launched in January 2000 to provide services, help and information over the festive period.

The executive traditionally runs an advertising campaign over Christmas and new year as that is the time when police and women's aid groups report an increase in complaints.

Figures for the number of incidents reported to police were released by the executive on Friday.

In contrast to previous years, more than 50% of the 39,643 incidents in 2003 led to the recording of a crime or offence.

Living together

The executive said this reflected changes in recording practices in Strathclyde and Tayside.

Almost a quarter of the incidents involved assaults, while breaches of the peace accounted for almost a fifth.

Almost half the cases involved people who were living together, and more than 90% of incidents took place in the home.

Women were said to be most at risk of becoming a victim of domestic abuse if they were aged between 22 and 30.

Whilst any increase in figures gives cause for concern, it may be that these indicate the growing confidence of victims in reporting such matters to the police
Detective Chief Constable Bob Ovens

The report suggested that 45% of the cases involved repeat victimisation.

The reporting of incidents has risen each year since the eight Scottish police forces began collating statistics in 1999.

Deputy Communities Minister Johann Lamont said: "This shows that, despite the significant progress that we've made in tackling domestic abuse, there is still a huge problem to address.

"We know that many of the women now seeking help would have just lived with the abuse in the past.

"Thanks to increased awareness of the issues and our investment in better support services, such as the 24 hour helpline, better police training and improved refuge provision, more people are coming forward."

Serious crime

However, she acknowledged that the number of cases being reported to police represented "the tip of the iceberg".

"We have much to do but are committed to working to achieve real improvements for the thousands of women and children affected by this," she said.

Detective Chief Constable Bob Ovens, of the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (Acpos), said: "These figures indicate that this is a serious crime, which blights the lives of many people in our country.

"Whilst any increase in figures gives cause for concern, it may be that these indicate the growing confidence of victims in reporting such matters to the police."



SEE ALSO:
Campaign targets domestic abuse
21 Dec 04 |  Scotland
Legal move to help abuse victims
24 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Funding support for abuse victims
27 Oct 04 |  Scotland
New approach to domestic abuse
14 Oct 04 |  Scotland
Abuse helpline becomes permanent
08 Jul 04 |  Scotland


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