This Christmas, hundreds of children across Scotland will witness domestic abuse in the home, Police Scotlandâ€™s Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said today.
Police Scotland was called to more than 42,000 domestic incidents between 1 April and 16 December this year. Children were at home at the time in 34 per cent of those incidents.
The Chief Constable highlighted the plight of children at a visit to meet members of Police Scotlandâ€™s Domestic Abuse Taskforce in Glasgow with Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, Phil Walker from Safer Communities Glasgow and Mhairi McGowan, Assist, the specialist domestic abuse advocacy service,
Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said:
â€œThe festive season is traditionally a time for families, but it is also a peak time for incidents of domestic abuse. The biggest victims of domestic abuse are often the smallest. Children are often the unacknowledged victims of domestic abuse, yet for them the effects can be lifelong and devastating.
â€œPolice Scotland will not tolerate domestic abuse, working with our many partners in the public and voluntary sector, we will tackle it and we aim to prevent it destroying the lives of its victims, and those children who too often witness this abuse.
â€œOur message to domestic abusers is stop, think, and think again of the effect on your family and your children. There is support out there, please use it. But understand this, if you are an abuser, there is no place to hide – we will find you.â€
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:
â€œDomestic abuse is an appalling crime, particularly for children who are forced to witness the suffering of someone they love.
â€œPolice Scotlandâ€™s domestic abuse campaign is not only timely but also exactly right message we should be sending to everyone across Scotland â€“ that tackling domestic abuse is a key priority for justice organisations across the country and there is nowhere for offenders to hide.
â€œRidding our country of the scourge of abuse requires a range of activity and that is why we have invested Â£34.5 million between 2012 â€“ 15 to provide funding for a range of projects to tackle domestic abuse across Scotland.
â€œThere has been a lot of action to tackle domestic abuse in Scotland over the past few months with the introduction of two new Disclosure pilots in Aberdeen and Ayrshire, and it is right that people in relationships should have the opportunity to seek the facts about their partnerâ€™s background if, for example, they have concerns that they might have a history of domestic abuse.
â€œWe have also recently announced our consultation on introducing a specific offence to tackle domestic abuse, which will run in the new year.â€
Mhairi McGowan, from Assist, said:
â€œIn our work with victims, we see the devastating effects of domestic abuse every day. Adults and children all over Scotland are living in fear of whatâ€™s coming next, of wondering whether Christmas will be disrupted by someone choosing to abuse them.
â€œEvery child, young person and adult deserves to live a life free of fear and intimidation, a life where everyone can reach their potential.
â€œI very much welcome Police Scotlandâ€™s proactive campaign to tackle domestic abuse and urge all victims to come forward and report what is happening in order that those who act in this way can be stopped.â€
Police Scotlandâ€™s campaign includes a range of proactive activity to prevent abuse and to keep people safe. This Friday, on a domestic abuse focused campaign against violence day, an additional 651 officers will be out and about across Scotland taking action to prevent domestic abuse. Action will range from contacting high risk victims to make sure they are safe, to serving warrants on those who have been investigated.