By Bill Heaney
A report that has been published by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has revealed that there were 33,425 charges of domestic abuse in Scotland in 2020-21, Tory MP Miles Briggs told the Scottish Parliament yesterday.
That suggests that there was an average of 91 incidents of domestic abuse every day in Scotland, which is the highest level since 2015. The figure relates only to cases that were reported, but it is well known that West Dunbartonshire is one of the worst areas for this type of criminal behaviour.
Mr Briggs said: “I know that the First Minister has taken an interest in that unacceptable situation. Does she agree that the Scottish Government needs to review the policies that are currently in place? Will she also investigate the possibility of establishment of family violence courts?”
Nicola Sturgeon, left, told him: “We will consider any reasonable proposal. As people will know from her background, the new Lord Advocate [Dorothy Bain] has a very strong interest in ensuring that victims of domestic abuse and women who are victims of male violence get appropriate and speedy access to justice.
“I know that she is very keen to ensure that all the Crown Office’s policies and procedures are helping to ensure that that is the case.”
She added: “I have commented on the underlying driving reasons for domestic abuse and violence against women and girls.
“When women and girls experience them—it is important to recognise that some men experience domestic abuse, but the majority of people who do are women—it is important that the justice system responds appropriately.
“Although the numbers are deeply troubling—that anyone is a victim of such crimes is deeply troubling—the increases in the numbers might mean that people are now feeling that they are more able to come forward and report such crimes, which we should welcome.
“In addition, of course, Parliament, to its great credit, passed a new law that made criminal certain behaviour—coercive and controlling abuse—that was not previously criminal. We must bear those factors in mind when we look at the numbers.
“However, making sure that people have access to justice is an important part of our overall approach to reducing the impact of domestic abuse and violence on women.”
West Dunbartonshire has its own committee on domestic abuse although the chair of that committee, Cllr Caroline McAllister, defected from the ruling SNP to Alex Salmond’s ALBA party.
She now appears to be re-united with the SNP and although they won’t let her back into the party, Cllr McAllister votes with them and protects their majority on the Council.