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Lord Advocate pledges robust prosecution for crimes of domestic abuse

The Lord Advocate today renewed her pledge to tackle the traumatising crimes of domestic abuse and stalking with robust prosecution of offenders.

Dorothy Bain KC vowed to maintain a powerful drive for justice for victims and their children. 

She made the commitment as new figures were released, showing a 1.9 percent decrease in the number of charges reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).  

In 2021-22, 32,776 charges related to domestic abuse were reported to COPFS, Scotland’s prosecution service.  This compared to the 2020-21 total of 33,425.   

The vast majority of these charges were prosecuted, with 93 percent proceeding to court, an increase of one percent on the previous year.  

The most common types of domestic abuse-related offences reported to COPFS in 2021-22 include threatening and abusive behaviour (28 percent) and assault (25 percent). 

There were 12 murder or culpable homicide charges with a domestic abuse identifier, a further 564 serious assault or attempted murder charges and 682 rape or attempted rape cases. 

In 2021-22 there were 1790 charges under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 – which recognises ongoing controlling and coercive behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner. This is a 13 percent increase on the previous year’s total of 1581. 

COPFS received reports of 1010 stalking charges under section 39 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, of which 571 (57 percent) were related to domestic abuse. 

Speaking on publication of the new figures, the Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC said:  

“Domestic abuse is an invidious and serious crime, where victims live in fear where they should feel the safest – in their homes and in their relationships. It is also clear that children are profoundly affected by the impact of abuse on a parent. 

“The pandemic has an ongoing impact on the criminal justice system but we remain committed to supporting victims through it, recognising the trauma many will have experienced already and the courage it can take to report their experiences.   

“All staff within COPFS have worked extremely hard over the past year to prepare and prosecute charges of domestic abuse as swiftly and effectively as possible and we are determined to continue to do so. 

“Scottish prosecutors understand that effective enforcement and prosecution is crucial to the wider prevention work of our justice partners; to building safer lives for victims and children; and to delivering a safer society for all.” 

COPFS’ national Procurator Fiscal for Domestic Abuse Moira Price said: 

“As these new figures are published, I would like to assure all victims of our continued determination to achieve justice on their behalf.   

“We will work closely with our counterparts at Police Scotland to investigate and prosecute the range of offences that constitute domestic abuse.  

“I would emphasise that our rigorous approach to crimes of domestic abuse and stalking includes a presumption in favour of prosecution, where there is sufficient evidence to support a criminal allegation. 

“I would encourage anyone who has been the victim of such offending to report it to the police and seek support.”