Page last updated at 18:52 GMT, Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Increase in domestic abuse cases

Domestic abuse victim - played by actress
More than half of the cases involved repeat victimisation

Incidents of domestic abuse are on the rise, official figures have shown.

There were 49,655 incidents recorded in Scotland in 2007-08, which is up 2% on the previous year.

In 85% of cases, the incidents involved a female victim and male perpetrator, with women most at risk of being victims between the ages of 22 and 25.

Incidents with a male victim and female perpetrator accounted for 12% of cases last year, with 31 to 35-year-old men most at risk.

Half of the incidents in 2007-08 (24,834) led to the recording of a crime or offence, most commonly minor assault and breach of the peace.

More than half of the cases, 54%, involved known repeat victimisation, compared to 57% in 2006-07.

It cannot be right that male victims are directed to a telephone helpline in the south of England
Mary Scanlon
Tory health spokeswoman
Domestic abuse is defined as any form of physical, non-physical, or sexual abuse which takes place within a close relationship, committed either in the home or elsewhere.

The figures showed incidents involving co-habitees or partners accounted for 44% of all cases.

Incidents involving spouses accounted for a further 16%.

A spokeswoman from the domestic violence campaign group Zero Tolerance said: "Over the longer-term we hope to see incidents declining, but domestic abuse will not decline significantly until we make more progress towards gender equality.

"We note that the latest round of statistics show that 85% of recorded incidents involved a female victim and a male perpetrator.

"Men's abuse of power is clearly still at the heart of this problem."

'Budget cuts'

Liberal Democrat MSP Robert Brown said greater emphasis should be placed on identifying people likely to reoffend.

"The significant rise in cases with male victims of female violence is also extremely worrying," he added.

"Domestic abuse is totally unacceptable, regardless of the gender of the perpetrator and victim."

Labour's justice spokesman Richard Baker said the figures showed the need for a "concerted effort" by the Scottish Government to rid the country of the problem.

"This needs to be backed up with effective support and funding for local groups who work with victims of domestic violence," he said.

"I am concerned of reports of budget cuts to a number of these organisations and the subsequent effect on victims."

'Changing attitudes'

Mary Scanlon, the Conservative health spokeswoman, said: "There is no doubt that the majority of cases involve male perpetrator and female victim but what these figures illustrate today is that all victims should be offered the same level of support and assistance regardless of gender.

"It cannot be right that male victims are directed to a telephone helpline in the south of England because of the lack of support systems for them in Scotland."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The rise in the reporting of incidents shows that while we have made progress in changing attitudes and encouraging people to report domestic abuse, there is still a lot more work to do in tackling this problem.

"We know the effects of domestic abuse can be devastating, including on children and young people, and we are determined to tackle it, wherever and whenever it occurs.

"That is why the Scottish Government has announced funding of nearly £44m to address violence against women and domestic abuse, this is more than double the investment made between 2005-2008."

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