Domestic Violence and Police/ Victim Interaction

Summary

Domestic violence has received increasing attention in Scottish policy and legislation, through criminalisation of abusive behaviour and the provision of civil measures to protect victims, and the development of broad frameworks for action in the field. Alongside this activity, the number of domestic abuse incidents coming to the attention of the police has increased by 50% over 10 years, rising from 36,000 recorded incidents in 2000 to just under 52,000 in 2010 (Scottish Government, 2010). Approaching the police is a critical step for victims in securing protection and ending the relationship/abuse (Hoyle and Sanders, 2000), but very few domestic abuse victims come into contact with the police at all (MacLeod and Page, 2010), and particular groups of victims are more likely than others to receive police attention (MacQueen and Norris, 2014).

Addressing Public Protection priorities identified by the Scottish Policing Assessment 2011-15 around protecting vulnerable individuals and encouraging reporting of domestic violence and abuse, this study examines who is affected by domestic violence and abuse, and how victims interact (or do not) with the police. Developed through collaborative partnership and funded through the SIPR Strategic Research and Knowledge Exchange programme, the study is led by Sarah MacQueen (University of Edinburgh), with co-investigators Paul Norris and Susan McVie (University of Edinburgh) and partners Mark Hollinsworth, Tina Ward and Lesley Bain (Police Scotland, Performance and Analysis).

Utilising Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) data and information on anonymised incidents of domestic abuse collated by Police Scotland, four key questions are addressed: Who are the victims of domestic abuse? Which victims of domestic abuse come to the attention of the police? How do the police and victims of domestic abuse interact? Who else do victims of domestic abuse tell?