Police awareness and involvement in cases of domestic and partner abuse

Published: June 2014

Abstract: The last decade has seen the number of incidents of domestic and partner abuse coming to the attention of the police increase by around 50%. Over the same period, new legislative measures have sought to criminalise and protect against abusive behaviour, while the Scottish Government’s Violence Against Women team has developed a national strategy for tackling domestic abuse and guidance for practitioners in the field. In spite of this activity, victims of domestic and partner abuse remain among the least likely to report their victimisation to the police. Moreover, research seeking to explore and understand this issue is scarce. Drawing on Scottish Crime and Justice Survey data, this paper presents an exploratory logistic regression analysis of the factors influencing whether or not the police become aware of victims’ experience of abuse. Highlighting that a wide spectrum of individuals experience domestic and partner abuse, this analysis demonstrates clear disparity between key groups of victims in terms of police awareness and attention. Female victims, victims without employment, victims experiencing multiple abuse and victims whose children witness abuse are the most likely to come to the attention of the police. Young victims, male victims and victims in employment are among the least likely. These findings highlight critical gaps in current national policy and guidance, and present an opportunity to reconsider strategies for police/victim engagement.

Authors / Editors

Research Themes

Gender, Crime and Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice Process and Institutions