Domestic abuse disclosure requests increase by a fifth

Requests under Police Scotland’s domestic abuse disclosure scheme have increased by 18 per cent since Covid-19 ‘lockdown’ measures were introduced.

Apr 29, 2020
By Paul Jacques

Nearly 260 requests for disclosure were made between March 23 and April 27, compared with 219 in 2019, with Police Scotland saying enforced isolation and physical distancing guidance has “increased the risk” of domestic abuse.

Most requests are being made by police officers and other professionals (including social workers and the NHS) raising a concern about someone they think may be at risk of domestic abuse. Police Scotland says it will then make a decision about whether to make a disclosure in the interests of safeguarding a person.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan Sloan, Police Scotland’s lead for major crime and public protection, said: “Domestic abuse is an ongoing threat in our local communities and there remains an increased risk as people continue to observe isolation and physical distancing guidance.

“Police Scotland will not tolerate domestic abuse, tackling it and preventing it is a priority for us and that has not changed because of Covid-19. Domestic abuse is seldom a one-off. People who abuse are likely to do so again and again.

“Survivors of abuse tell us that isolation is a tactic perpetrators use to restrict their opportunities to seek help and support from friends and families, via websites or through social media. No one should live in fear of abuse.”

In the 12 months to March 31, 2020, Police Scotland received 2,648 requests for disclosure, a 66 per cent increase on the previous year (1,596 applications).

In that same period more than 1,200 disclosures were made to people indicating that their partner had an abusive past. This is a 40 per cent increase on the same period the previous year (865 disclosures).

Police Scotland said the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland remains in operation, and people can readily access the scheme if they are concerned that their partner or the partner of someone they know may have an abusive past.

“Domestic abuse is about power and control. It can be physical or sexual, but it can include verbal, sexual, psychological or financial abuse. Offenders seek to frighten, humiliate and isolate victims from those who can offer them support,” said Mr Sloan. “This is why it is so important that people understand that we are here to help now.”

He said Police Scotland would continue to treat reports of domestic abuse as a priority, adding: “Domestic abuse is everyone’s business. We want to prevent harm by identifying people who may be at risk.”

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