Commenting on statistics published today showing a 4% increase in police recorded incidents of domestic abuse before the pandemic started, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said:
“Domestic abuse is a hideous crime and even now the figures almost certainly represent an underestimation of the problem.
“Women need to be empowered to report abuse and supported in the aftermath. That means moving away from short funding cycles for third sector services, which throws them into annual jeopardy.
“The new domestic abuse legislation was an important step forward, recognising the degrading and harmful experience of coercive and controlling behaviour. But the relatively low levels of police reports may raise questions about how it is being enforced.
“It should also be borne in mind that these trends, worrying as they are, pre-date the pandemic. During lockdown, we know that for too many, staying at home didn’t mean staying safe as escape routes and safe spaces were closed off.
“Some of those affected will bear serious physical and emotional scars. That must be taken into account in the government’s thinking as restrictions ease, with improved access to mental health services in particular.
"Scottish Liberal Democrats have today called for an expert commission into violence against women and girls and for it to report back to Parliament with recommendations within a year."