POLICE in the Scottish Borders believe an increase in reported incidents of domestic violence is something to be welcomed, writes Adam Drummond.
Between April and December last year, a total of 720 incidents of domestic violence were reported to local police, an increase of over 100 compared to the same period in 2011.
The number of referrals to the local domestic violence service also increased, from 20 in the last nine months of 2011 to 136 between April and December last year.
The figures were revealed at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s police, fire and rescue, and Safer Communities pathfinder board on Friday.
Superintendent Andrew Allan, local area commander, stated in his report to the meeting: “The increase in crimes of domestic violence and repeat victimisation should be currently viewed as a positive step as more victims are taking up the DAAS (Domestic Abuse Advocacy Support) referral scheme and are engaging more with police and partner agencies, and showing more confidence in reporting crimes of this nature.”
Supt Allan later told TheSouthern that the Pathway project, of which the advocacy support service is a part, has proved so successful that the workload is four times what was expected when the project was established in September last year.
He added that the ‘ground-breaking’ scheme was now attracting a number of self-referrals and was being examined with a view to it being rolled out across the country.
The multi-agency project, designed to support adult and child victims of domestic violence, secured £1.2 million worth of funding from the Scottish Government, the BIG Lottery Fund and other partner agencies.
The project has increased the level of specialist support to victims and their children, but also focuses on prevention.
Andrea Beavon, the violence against women and domestic abuse co-ordinator at Scottish Borders Council, said: “This is not about more people being abused, this is about more people coming forward to report it.”
Ms Beavon said that the increased reports locally reflected the ‘robust response’ the Pathway project was providing, and the confidence that victims had in being treated with respect and with a focus on their safety.
“Self-referrals are a really good litmus test for the impact and reach we have,” she added, “ and I would be happy to see the numbers of self-referrals go up and up.”