The number of domestic abuse incidents recorded by police in Scotland has risen for the fifth year in a row, according to the latest figures.
Police recorded 65,251 incidents of domestic abuse in 2020-21, an increase of 4% compared with the previous year, figures published by the Scottish Government showed.
Over that period, 40% of incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police in Scotland included at least one crime or offence, with common assault the most frequently noted (32%).
This was followed by breach of the peace etc (23%), which includes threatening or abusive behaviour and stalking.
There were six homicides, 433 incidents of attempted murder and serious assault and 470 cases of rape and attempted rape.
The Scottish Conservatives said the Scottish Government’s “soft-touch approach” to justice had led to those guilty of domestic abuse not being punished sufficiently.
The party’s justice spokesman, Jamie Greene MSP, said: “Domestic abuse is a stain on our society, and so it is absolutely shocking to see it increase for the fifth year in a row.
“The SNP Government’s attitude of putting criminals ahead of the victim has contributed to the year-upon-year rise in the number of domestic abuse incidents.
“Soft-touch justice policies mean that domestic abusers are being spared prison, allowing them to continue to terrorise their victims.
“And those that go to prison are let out early, free to reoffend and cause further harm to victims.”
The figures showed that in 2020-21, just over nine in 10 (91%) of all domestic abuse incidents happened in a home or dwelling.
Three in 10 incidents (31%) occurred at the weekend in 2020-21, a slight decrease from 34% in 2019-20.
Where gender information was recorded, four in five (80%) incidents of domestic abuse in 2020-21 involved a female victim and a male accused, down slightly from 82% in 2019-20.
Over that period 16% of domestic abuse incidents involved a male victim and a female accused, up slightly from 15% in 2019-20.
In the remaining cases the victim and accused were the same gender.
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur called for “common sense reforms” to tackle domestic abuse.
He said: “Domestic abuse is a hideous, controlling and life-threatening crime.
“With cases rising for the fifth successive year, it’s clear that cross-party work and the hard work of campaigners has played a part in encouraging more people to come forward but opportunities have been missed for supporting victims and tackling offenders.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats are calling for reforms to build a presumption that the perpetrator will be required to leave the shared home and (to) develop a new ‘destitution fund’ for people experiencing domestic abuse unable to access other sources of help.
“Likewise, we have pressed the Government to deliver a commission which would bring together all the different strands of work related to violence against women. This expert commission should be tasked with reporting back to Parliament with recommendations within a year.”
Police Scotland Detective Chief Superintendent Sam Faulds said: “Tackling domestic abuse is a priority for Police Scotland and we are committed to working with our partners to reduce the harm it causes and ultimately eradicate it.”
She said all reports of domestic abuse will be “thoroughly investigated”, adding: “Police Scotland will proactively target perpetrators and support victims to prevent domestic abuse from damaging the lives of victims and their families.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “These crimes have a devastating impact on victims and we continue to encourage all those who experience domestic abuse to report it and seek support.
“The new offence of domestic abuse, which has been heralded as gold-standard legislation, has given more powers to police and courts to punish perpetrators of abuse and protect people at risk.
“Sentencing in each case remains a matter for the independent courts with custody available if the court considers it necessary.
“We are clear that Scotland’s police, prosecutors and the courts have the powers needed to deal with perpetrators of domestic abuse.
“Within the first 100 days of this government we provided £5 million to rape crisis centres and domestic abuse services to help them cut waiting times, on top of £5.75 million we allocated in 2020-21 to help redesign frontline services.
“In addition, our Delivering Equally Safe Fund is providing £38 million over the next two years to organisations helping to prevent abuse and to aid recovery where it does happen.”