Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain has urged victims of domestic abuse to contact the authorities, after a sharp decline in the number of charges reported.

Statistics released on Tuesday by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) showed there were 30,139 charges sent to prosecutors, down from 32,776 in the previous year, an 8% decrease.

Stalking charges also dropped, falling from 1,067 to 921.

The most common type of domestic abuse-related offence, reported in 8,235 cases, was threatening and abusive behaviour, where an offender acts in a way that causes fear or alarm.

Another 7,357 cases involved some form of common assault.

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The breakdown provided by the Procurator Fiscal also showed that there were seven murder or culpable homicide charges with a domestic abuse identifier, a further 491 serious assault or attempted murder charges and 639 rape or attempted rape cases.

Another 161 involved the offender threatening to or disclosing intimate images.

There were also 1,753 charges under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 relating to ongoing controlling and coercive behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner.

The majority of those accused of domestic abuse, around 86%, were male.

The Crown Office breakdown also shows that of those charged, 11,053, 36.7% were aged between 31 and 40, while 8,371, 27.8% were aged between 21 and 30.

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Commenting after the publication of the figures, Ms Bain said: “No one should have to live in fear of a partner or former partner. The trauma suffered by victims – and children who witness these crimes – is profound and distressing.

“At COPFS, we recognise domestic abuse as a scourge on our society, to be tackled with every means at our disposal.

“We know that crimes perpetrated behind closed doors are every bit as serious as those which may be witnessed by many. Perpetrators must be brought to justice.

“Scottish prosecutors understand that robust and effective prosecution is crucial, along with the work of our justice partners, to building safer lives for victims, their children and all in our communities.”

COPFS’ National Procurator Fiscal for Domestic Abuse Moira Price said: “These new figures show that COPFS received more than 30,000 reports connected to domestic abuse in 2022-23. Some 94% of reports proceeded to court.

“Victims should be assured that Scotland’s prosecutors adopt a presumption in favour of prosecution in reports of domestic abuse and stalking, where there is sufficient evidence.

“Domestic Abuse legislation allows us to effectively capture a course of behaviour which builds a picture of abuse. Working closely with our counterparts at Police Scotland, we will do everything in our power to prosecute these crimes at the highest level possible.

“I would encourage anyone who has been the victim of such offending to come forward, report it and seek support."