NEW WARN­ING ON DO­MES­TIC ABUSE

Re­ported in­ci­dents rise to over 2200

West Lothian Courier - - Front Page - Sean O’Neil

More than 2200 cases of do­mes­tic abuse were re­ported in West Loth­ian in 2016-17, a shock­ing new re­port re­veals.

The an­nual gov­ern­ment re­port shows that 124 peo­ple per 10,000 fall vic­tim to do­mes­tic abuse in the area – the eighth high­est rate of abuse in Scot­land.

There were 2241 re­ported in­ci­dents, a rise from 2203 the pre­vi­ous year.

De­tec­tive Chief In­spec­tor De­bra For­rester, from the Do­mes­tic Abuse Task Force, this week warned that it is a con­tin­u­ing prob­lem across Scot­land.

And she stressed that more help from com­mu­ni­ties was key to re­duc­ing harm and pro­tect­ing vic­tims of do­mes­tic abuse.

Det Ch Insp For­rester said: “No one is im­mune from do­mes­tic abuse, it can oc­cur in ev­ery type of re­la­tion­ship, re­gard­less of gen­der, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, eth­nic­ity or age. Do­mes­tic abuse is of­ten about con­trol, the blame for which lies solely with the per­pe­tra­tors.

“Any re­port of do­mes­tic abuse is one re­port too many. How­ever, these fig­ures do re­flect the work be­ing car­ried out by Po­lice Scot­land and other rel­e­vant part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions to en­cour­age vic­tims to come for­ward and re­port abuse di­rectly, or through the var­i­ous dif­fer­ent re­port­ing meth­ods avail­able, such as third-party re­port­ing and the char­ity Crimestop­pers.

“I would like to as­sure all mem­bers of our com­mu­nity that we treat these

crimes with the ut­most se­ri­ous­ness and when­ever peo­ple have the courage to re­port them to us, we will in­ves­ti­gate ro­bustly to iden­tify and ap­pre­hend those re­spon­si­ble, while pro­vid­ing vic­tims with all the nec­es­sary sup­port and as­sis­tance they may re­quire.”

How­ever, a spokesper­son for Scot­tish Women’s Aid said the data is only a snap­shot of a much big­ger prob­lem.

The spokesper­son said: “For ev­ery re­ported in­ci­dent, there are so many sto­ries un­told, be­cause do­mes­tic abuse is never just an ‘ in­ci­dent’. Do­mes­tic abuse is about con­trol. It is about in­tim­i­da­tion, hu­mil­i­a­tion and some­times vi­o­lence.

“It robs women, chil­dren and young peo­ple of their self- es­teem, their lib­erty, their right to live free from fear and, trag­i­cally for a small num­ber, male vi­o­lence robs them of their life.”

There were 58,810 recorded in­ci­dents in Scot­land last year with women be­ing the vic­tim of a male abuser in 79 per cent of the cases where gen­der was recorded.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment have al­lo­cated £ 20mil­lion over three years to re­duce vi­o­lence against women and girls. And their Do­mes­tic Abuse Bill is mov­ing through Holy­rood.

Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Michael Mathe­son said: “We know these fig­ures don’t paint the whole pic­ture, vic­tims are of­ten too afraid to re­port abuse. It is cru­cial our work con­tin­ues with even greater ur­gency.”

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