BBC Scotland reports ‘Hundreds told of partner’s abusive past’, but viewers not informed of wider context


On the BBC early morning broadcasts and on the website, with tabloid imagery, today:

‘Nearly 1,600 people in Scotland have been told about the abusive past of their partners since the introduction of a new law in 2015. Police Scotland said that 3,500 people in total had made requests for information under the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland (DSDAS).’

How common are reports of domestic abuse in Scotland?

Domestic abuse in Scotland remains a national disgrace. I’m in no way wishing to understate the scale of the problem:


27 496 crimes of domestic abuse! Appalling! Perhaps we may take a little comfort in the recorded levels falling against a background of greater willingness to report?

Are men ever the victims?

Controversially, one charity suggested in 2010, that attacks by women on men are disproportionally less likely to be reported because of social stigma and may be as high as 40% of all incidents.

Also, controversially, but based on 2016/2017 statistics, we see from the ONS (in England and Wales):

‘An estimated 1.9 million adults aged 16 to 59 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year, according to the year ending March 2017 Crime Survey for England and Wales (1.2 million women, 713,000 men).’

This suggests that more than 35% of the reports were from men!

Is domestic crime particularly high in Scotland?

However, it is the lack of geographical context which is most notably missing from today’s reporting.

In Scotland, in 2016/2017, there were 27 496 cases of domestic abuse recorded as crimes.

In England & Wales, in the same year:

‘The police recorded 1.1 million domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes in the year ending March 2017 and of these, 46% were recorded as domestic abuse-related crimes.’

46% of 1.1 million is 500 600 recorded as domestic abuse-related crimes.

England & Wales has a combined population of 58 million, so the rate of domestic abuse-related crimes is 1 for every 115.8 people.

Scotland has a population of 5.4 million, so the rate of domestic abuse-related crimes is 1 for every 196.4 people.

The rate of domestic abuse-related crimes is nearly twice as high in England and Wales as it is in Scotland.

The figures for 2014/i5 (Scotland) and 2015/16 (England & Wales) tell a similar story:


Why is the rate so much higher for England & Wales?

Well one factor is very difficult to talk about. England and Wales have a more diverse population than Scotland. A few only of the ethno-linguistic groups within that diversity have a greater tendency to see women simply as resources or possessions of the husband and of the extended family. Within a very small number of these groups, often those from more rural or tribal origins, regardless of religious affiliation, male elders are prepared to apply severe physical punishments, including ‘honour killing’, to women perceived as straying or disrespecting the males and/or the traditions of the group.

Sweden’s perhaps comparable situation is responsibly discussed here:

Is the SNP Government working to improve the situation here?


‘A law setting a “gold standard” for domestic abuse legislation by incorporating both emotional and physical violence into the same offence is expected to be passed by the Scottish parliament.’

Footnote: In a response to blogger IndyRef2 complaining about the use of the term SNP Government rather than Scottish Government, in reports only of bad news, BBC Scotland have decided that they were entitled to do so. So, that’s settled then.


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