Polls on attitudes towards domestic abuse in Scotland make for depressing reading.
One Scottish Government survey of males in 2009, found, shockingly, that 7% of men agreed that "sometimes men can have a good reason for hitting their partner".
Concerted attempts have been made over recent years to stamp out such views, so it is alarming to discover that there is a postcode lottery within Scotland in terms of how seriously some incidents of domestic abuse are treated by the police. In Lothian and Borders, police recorded one-quarter of domestic abuse cases as crimes last year, while in the former Strathclyde police area, the figure was nearly four-fifths. Officers are recording cases as incidents rather than crimes, meaning they are not reported to procurators-fiscal.
It is the victims of domestic abuse who could suffer as a result of failures by the police to properly designate such incidents. Efforts are now being made to bring all areas of the new police force up to the same standard of domestic abuse reporting, but it is astonishing that it has taken the setting up of a nationwide police service to arrive at this point.
The need to standardise the way crimes are recorded is hardly new. Ten years ago, a National Crime Recording Standard was implemented across all eight police force areas, introducing a more victim-oriented method of recording crime.
Since records of incidents might not be as easily accessed and tracked as crime reports, there is concern that officers attending a call to a domestic abuse case might not be aware of any pattern of previous incidents at the same address, potentially indicating an escalation of abuse.
While such incidents may or may not involve any form of physical violence, they might feature mental and psychological abuse. For victims, making the decision to report their abuse is often enormously difficult and takes great courage.
Whether police are responding to a victim's own call or to that of a concerned neighbour, it is essential that victims are not let down in their hour of need by police officers who fail to give them the support they need.
One underlying concern is that there could be a reluctance by some officers to designate incidents as crimes to avoid adding to the overall crime figures. As if that thought were not worrying enough, there are fears that domestic abuse cases may be seen by certain officers as less serious than some other types of crime.
Chief Constable Sir Stephen House has made the tackling of domestic abuse a major priority. That is crucial. The tendency by Police Scotland to apply "Glasgow-style" policing country-wide has not been universally welcomed: the huge increase in the use of stop-and-search countrywide, for instance, has raised concerns about civil liberties.
When it comes to domestic abuse, however, there is no room for equivocation. The approach to this issue in the former Strathclyde Police area has been widely praised and should be aspired to in all parts of the new unified police service.
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