Police raids target suspected domestic abusers

Officers use the element of surprise by arriving at the door of a domestic abuse suspect at 7.30am.   Picture: Neil Hanna
Officers use the element of surprise by arriving at the door of a domestic abuse suspect at 7.30am. Picture: Neil Hanna
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DOMESTIC abusers were today targeted in a string of dawn raids on their doorsteps aimed at clamping down on violent partners in the Capital.

Three teams of officers called at the homes of offenders at 7.30am, knocking at their front doors and rousing some from sleep.

Thirty people – the majority men – had been identified by members of the Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit to be rounded up during Operation Biscayne.

Most were wanted on warrants for failing to appear at court on domestic abuse charges or had been involved in incidents overnight.

It is the first time that mass arrests of this scale – typically used against drug dealers and football hooligans – have been used against domestic abusers in the city.

Around 20 officers were dispatched from police stations at Howdenhall, Wester Hailes and Drylaw to carry out the swoops. Twelve of the officers taking part were deployed as part of today’s Campaign Against Violence (CAV) Day when normally desk-bound personnel are sent into the field to bolster resources.

At 7.45am, two police officers led out a 49-year-old man in handcuffs from his ground floor flat in Castleview, Craigmillar. Looking shamefaced, the man was put in the back of an unmarked police car to be taken St Leonard’s station.

Many of the targets were set to appear later today at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Detective Inspector Dougie Moran, head of the city’s Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit, said: “These were individuals who had outstanding arrest warrants against them. By taking this action we wanted the message to go out that we will pursue every offender involved in domestic abuse, including when they flout the rules of the court.

“Our officers will also be pursuing individuals allegedly involved in domestic abuse incidents last night.

“On an average morning, our unit will be passed 15 domestic incidents which took place overnight. There is always a spike in the festive period and we’ll deal with 25 to 30 each day in the week running up to Christmas. On New Year’s Day, when alcohol has likely been a factor, the average number can triple to around 50.

“The Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit, launched under Police Scotland, has made a huge difference in allowing us to pursue these perpetrators.”

Across Edinburgh, more than 80 of CAV officers, in both uniform and plainclothes, will be on patrol to assist with Operation Astrodome, the police campaign to keep people safe during the festive season.

The last Friday before Christmas is expected to see a surge in shoppers and revellers into the city centre.

Superintendent Matt Richards said: “As part of Operation Astrodome, Edinburgh policing resources have already been strengthened to ensure we are able to keep people safe over the festive period.

“We are now utilising one of the CAV days to provide additional resources to the city-centre policing teams on what is, potentially, one of the busiest days of the year.”

Specialist unit tackles offenders

TACKLING domestic abuse was made a “major priority” under Police Scotland, with a specialist unit set up to pursue offenders in Edinburgh.

The Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit has made a particular target of repeat offenders, even contacting previous partners to build up a history of their criminal behaviour, helping build up powerful evidence to put before courts. The task force is staffed with detectives with experience in linking together past crimes.

As well as the new unit, a number of other policing changes were brought in to tackle the problem. All 999 domestic abuse calls are now given “top grade” status to ensure immediate responses, and responding officers employ more “intrusive” tactics, such as questioning neighbours and family members of victims.

Between April and the end of June, the percentage of incidents which saw a report being submitted to the procurator fiscal climbed from 23.6 per cent to 57.7 per cent.

Scottish Government figures showed that 10,185 domestic abuse incidents were recorded in Lothian and Borders between April 2011 and March last year.

• Scottish Women’s Aid welcomes the tough stance taken by police on domestic abuse, especially over the Christmas and New Year period when it traditionally peaks.

It is important, however, to consider the year-round picture, with 450 women every week contacting Women’s Aid groups around Scotland.

Scottish Government figures for this year show 11 deaths, 313 attempted murders and almost 23,000 incidents involving assaults.

From that first call to our 24/7 helpline on 0800 027 1234, Women’s Aid is there for the whole journey, providing a space where women can get emotional support, to practical help with housing, safety planning, finances and access to legal protection.