Latest crime figures show surge in domestic abuse in West Lothian during pandemic

The pandemic has seen a surge in domestic abuse across West Lothian.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 4:45 pm
The latest stats show domestic abuse is on the rise across West Lothian.

Shocking figures earlier this year showed the highest rate of climb in any of Scotland’s local authorities.

A positive behind those statistics is in the increased confidence in reporting, and other measures put in place which have helped local police uncover historic cases of abuse and also made it easier to track down frequent offenders.

A new programme, the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland (DSDAS) has helped police, and saved many from the potential of assault and violence.

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In his quarterly report to the Services for the Community Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP) of West Lothian Council the local police commander highlighted the rise in offences and arrests.

Chief Inspector Alun Williams said: “Domestic abuse will always be a priority matter for all West Lothian officers. By the end of the last quarter of the year, officers had recorded 2,662 domestic incidents, 382 more than the previous year, during which 1,615 crimes were recorded.

“This crime figure is 21.9% higher than last year, and follows the pattern that we have seen all year; Covid-19 lifestyle and household related changes present as the key contributory factors in this increase.

“By the end of the year we had made 78 more proactive arrests of perpetrators who were in Breach of Bail conditions, relating to domestic offences, almost exactly twice the total of 2019/20.”

The Disclosure Scheme has two main triggers.

The Right to Ask is open to anyone who has concerns about a new partner’s abusive past, or has concerns about another person’s new partner. An example of this would be a parent concerned about their child’s new partner.

The Power to Tell is when police receive information or intelligence about the safety of a person who may be at risk.

Ch Insp Williams said: “We welcome a 40% increase in DSDAS referrals in West Lothian compared with the same period in 2020. This is a prevention tactic, and ensures that disclosures in potentially higher tariff circumstances are being made, in order that victims can make informed decisions about their relationship and review safety measures.”

Across J Division , which covers the old Lothian and Borders force area, a Domestic Abuse Prevention Delivery Group promotes new tactics and best practice.

For six weeks from the end of February, the #GetConsent campaign was widely promoted through social media. It was designed to educate male perpetrators, aged 18-35 years old and within a relationship, on the issue of consent, to prevent them from offending, with the single proposition that ‘Sex without consent is rape’.

Campaign messages can still be accessed via the Police Scotland website.

The group has a number of prevention activities planned. This includes an active social media campaign with local officers providing messages and advice regarding domestic abuse through online video clips.

The group has engaged with six of the largest employers in West Lothian to identify Points of Contact, individuals who will promote Police Scotland Domestic Abuse campaigns within their own organisations.

In April council staff working with the council’s Domestic and Sexual Assault Team worked alongside police to promote National Stalking Awareness week.

Police also supported the Victim Support Scotland “Your Space” campaign earlier this year, which highlighted the emotional impacts of Domestic Abuse and practical help that is available to the victims of crime.

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