Use of a police scheme to find out whether a partner has an abusive past has risen by almost a fifth since lockdown began.
Police Scotland said around 260 requests were made through its domestic abuse disclosure scheme between restrictions coming into force on March 23 and Monday April 27.
Requests have risen 18% on the 219 made over the same period of 2019.
Police officers and other professionals such as social workers and NHS staff are making the majority of the requests, under the Power to Tell aspect of the scheme which enables them to raise a concern about someone they believe might be at risk of domestic abuse.
Police Scotland then decides whether to make a disclosure to safeguard a person.
The scheme also gives people the Right to Ask, enabling a person to inquire if their partner has an abusive past.
In addition, it allows any concerned third party such as a parent, relative, neighbour or friend to make the application on a person’s behalf.
Each case is considered by a multi-agency panel to determine whether disclosure is lawful, necessary and proportionate to protect the individual from their partner.
Assistant Chief Constable Duncan Sloan said: “Domestic abuse is an ongoing threat in our local communities and there remains an increased risk as people continue to observe isolation and physical distancing guidance.
“Police Scotland will not tolerate domestic abuse, tackling it and preventing it is a priority for us and that has not changed because of Covid-19.”
In the 12 months to March 31, there were 2,648 requests under the scheme, an increase of 66% on the 1,569 applications in the same period the previous year.
Most of the increase was under the Power to Tell, with these applications rising by 852 (85%), while those made under Right to Ask rose by 200 (34%)
More than 1,200 people were told their partner had an abusive past, up 40% on the 865 disclosures in 2018/19.
Mr Sloan said the scheme remains in operation during the lockdown.
He said: “Domestic abuse is seldom a one off. People who abuse are likely to do so again and again.
“Survivors of abuse tell us that isolation is a tactic perpetrators use to restrict their opportunities to seek help and support from friends and families, via websites or through social media.
“Domestic abuse is about power and control. It can be physical or sexual, but it can include verbal, sexual, psychological or financial abuse. Offenders seek to frighten, humiliate and isolate victims from those who can offer them support.
“This is why it is so important that people understand that we are here to help now.”
If you are being abused or know anyone at risk, contact Police Scotland on 101 or 999 in an emergency.
If you need support, contact Scotland’s domestic abuse and forced marriage helpline on 0800 027 1234, which is open 24/7.
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