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Lord Advocate urges victims of domestic abuse to seek safety and justice

The Lord Advocate today pledged her ongoing support for victims and children suffering through domestic abuse and urged them to seek both safety and justice.

Dorothy Bain KC renewed the commitment of prosecutors to use the full force of the law against perpetrators in pursuit of a safer Scotland for all. 

She commented on today’s publication of the annual Domestic Abuse and Stalking Charges in Scotland. 

The figures for 2022-23 show an eight percent decrease in the number of charges reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).  

In 2022-23, 30,139 charges related to domestic abuse were reported to COPFS, compared to the 2021-22 total of 32,776.   

The vast majority of these charges were prosecuted, with 94 percent proceeding to court.  

The most common types of domestic abuse-related offences reported to COPFS in 2022-23 include threatening and abusive behaviour (27 percent), common assault (24 percent) and crimes against public justice (23%, includes bail offences). 

There were seven murder or culpable homicide charges with a domestic abuse identifier, a further 491 serious assault or attempted murder charges and 639 rape or attempted rape cases. 

In 2022-23 there were 1753 charges under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 – which recognises ongoing controlling and coercive behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner. This represents 5.8 percent of all domestic abuse charges. 

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

“No one should have to live in fear of a partner or former partner.  The trauma suffered by victims – and children who witness these crimes – is profound and distressing. 

“At COPFS, we recognise domestic abuse as a scourge on our society, to be tackled with every means at our disposal.   

“We know that crimes perpetrated behind closed doors are every bit as serious as those which may be witnessed by many.  Perpetrators must be brought to justice. 

“Scottish prosecutors understand that robust and effective prosecution is crucial, along with the work of our justice partners, to building safer lives for victims, their children and all in our communities.” 

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

“These new figures show that COPFS received more than 30,000 reports connected to domestic abuse in 2022-23.  Some 94 percent of reports proceeded to court. 

“Victims should be assured that Scotland’s prosecutors adopt a presumption in favour of prosecution in reports of domestic abuse and stalking, where there is sufficient evidence.  

“Domestic Abuse legislation allows us to effectively capture a course of behaviour which builds a picture of abuse.  Working closely with our counterparts at Police Scotland, we will do everything in our power to prosecute these crimes at the highest level possible.   

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