Domestic abuse levels hit record high

Domestic abuse levels hit record high

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The number of domestic abuse incidents has hit the highest level on record, new figures reveal.

In 2020-21, there were 65,251 incidents of domestic abuse recorded by Police Scotland. This is the highest number recorded in the Scottish Government dataset, which spans back over 20 years.

The Scottish Conservatives have criticised the SNP Government’s soft-touch approach to justice which has led to those guilty of domestic abuse not being punished sufficiently.

In June 2019, the SNP Government passed a presumption against short sentences meaning that many criminals now avoid going to prison for 12 months or less.

As a result, under the SNP, just 19% of those convicted under the Domestic Abuse Act ended up going to prison.

And because of the SNP keeping automatic early release for 95% of criminals, every single person convicted under the Act was eligible for automatic halfway release. The same applies to 62% of sex offenders who were sentenced to prison.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Jamie Greene MSP, said: 

“Domestic abuse is a stain on our society, and so it is absolutely shocking to see it increase for the fifth year in a row.

“The SNP Government’s attitude of putting criminals ahead of the victim has contributed to the year-upon-year rise in the number of domestic abuse incidents.

“Soft touch justice policies mean that domestic abusers are being spared prison, allowing them to continue to terrorise their victims. And those that go to prison are let out early, free to re-offend and cause further harm to victims.

“We must do everything we can to stand up for victims, which is why the Scottish Conservatives would put victims at the heart of Scotland’s justice system with our Victims Law.”

Notes

The number of domestic abuse incidents has hit the highest level on record. In 2020-21, 65,251 incidents of domestic abuse were recorded by Police Scotland. This is the highest number recorded in the dataset and an increase of 2,344 incidents on 2019-20, which was the previous high. (Scottish Government, Domestic Abuse Recorded By The Police In Scotland, 2020-21, 30 November 2021, Table 1, link).

Six domestic abuse related homicides were recorded by Police Scotland last year. In 2020-21, there were 6 domestic abuse related homicides recorded by Police Scotland. (Scottish Government, Domestic Abuse Recorded By The Police In Scotland, 2020-21, 30 November 2021, Table 1, link).

There were hundreds of recorded domestic abuse-related murder attempts in Scotland last year. For the crime of attempted murder and serious assault, 433 crimes were recorded by Police Scotland in 2020-21. (Scottish Government, Domestic Abuse Recorded By The Police In Scotland, 2020-21, 30 November 2021, Table 1, link).

Just 19% of criminals convicted under the Domestic Abuse Act end up going to jail. In 2019-20, just 19% of criminals convicted under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 were given a custodial sentence. More than 60% were given a community sentence instead and 13% received just a financial penalty. (Scottish Government, Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2019-20, 18 May 2021, Table 8(b), link).

The SNP passed a Presumption Against Short Sentences – effectively trying to ban prison sentences of less than 12 months. Passed in June 2019, the Presumption Against Short Sentences states: ‘The court must not pass a sentence of imprisonment for 12 months or less on a person unless it considers that no other sentence is appropriate. The court must record the reasons for its sentencing decision.’ (Scottish Government, Presumption against short sentences extended, 26 June 2019, link).

Over 95% of prisoners are subject to automatic early release. The latest Criminal Proceedings statistics from 2019-20 confirm that the number of prisoners sentenced to less than four years was 10,549. Overall, 11,076 criminals were given a prison sentence in 2019-20. As every criminal sentenced to less than four years is subject to automatic early release, this means 95% of criminals given a prison sentence in 2019-20 will be/were released automatically halfway through their sentence. For sexual crimes 262 out of 425 sentenced to prison were given sentences of less than four years, meaning they would also be eligible for automatic early release. (Scottish Government, Criminal Proceedings 2019-20, 18 May 2021, Table 10(a), link; Mygov.scot, Prison and parole, 10 January 2020, link).

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