Figures this week from Police Scotland show that there has been a 26.4% rise in reports of domestic abuse in East Lothian.
Police Scotland’s ‘Quarter 3 Council Area Report 2018/19’ illustrates that 880 people reported domestic violence in the last year. This is up from 696 the year before.
Further concerns have been raised regarding other violent crime in East Lothian. The number of reported violent crime has risen modestly as there were 199 more violent crimes reported. Police Scotland have highlighted that their estimated detection rate in East Lothian is incredibly low with only 6 per cent of crimes actually recorded. This highlights that violent crime is likely higher than reported.
This is tied into concerns that the Scottish Government is currently consulting on plans to abolish prison sentences under one year. Nicola Sturgeon outlined in her 2017 Programme for Government that the Scottish Government would look in to abolishing prison sentences under a year, following calls from think tanks such as Reform Scotland, who claim they are ineffective.
Earlier this year, the UK Government published their plans for a domestic abuse bill which seeks to reform the justice system so that domestic abuse is punished more harshly. It also expands the definition of domestic abuse so that it accounts for economic abuse and non-physical abuse.
South Scotland MSP, Michelle Ballantyne, has expressed her concerns with the Police Scotland figures and highlighted that abolishing one year sentences could go against the UK Government proposals, which is seeking to counteract the rise of domestic abuse in areas like East Lothian.
Michelle Ballantyne MSP commented:
“Domestic abuse is an incredibly serious issue, and it’s concerning to see that it has risen substantially in East Lothian.
“This is why it’s incredibly important that we are tough on perpetrators and protect those who have experienced it.
“My concern is that the SNP Government’s plans to abolish short sentences will hinder any measures made to tackle domestic violence. This soft-touch approach to justice is not what East Lothian needs.
“I have a lot of respect for the brave people who have reported domestic abuse and encourage anyone in that position to do the same and seek the support they need.”