West Lothian sees highest increase in domestic abuse cases since lockdowns began

West Lothian has seen the highest increase in domestic abuse incidents in Scotland since the Covid lockdowns began almost a year ago – higher than the country’s largest cities.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 6:00 am
Stock shot of domestic abuse.

A report to the council’s Social Policy, Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP) revealed West Lothian has had a 17.8 per cent increase during the pandemic compared to the same period the year before.

The number of reported incidents in the 41 weeks from 16 April 2020 was 1824, up from 1549 in the previous reporting period. An increase of 275.

Thirteen local authority areas including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Renfrewshire reported decreases but West Lothian accounted for 29 per cent of the increases for Scotland. The estimated figure for Scotland was 44,028, a 2.2 per cent increase on the year before.

Councillor Moira Shemilt said: “This 17.8 per cent increase is not necessarily a bad thing if it means that more women are recognising that support is out there.

"That might be the reason why women who have undergone long term abuse have now decided to come out.

"I think that has to be recognised there must be a confidence for the people to have their needs met.”

She agreed with fellow councillor Tom Conn: “that it’s not something we should be proud of. But it might be high because people know they are going to get help.”

Local police teams have also been running high profile social media campaigns highlighting their zero tolerance policy against domestic abuse and Scottish Fire and Rescue officers are also trained to be alert to the signs of domestic violence in homes where they are working fitting smoke detectors or carrying out safety surveys.

Executive councillor for social policy, Angela Doran-Timson, said: “The police figures are extremely worrying.

“Community planning partners have been responding to an increase in reports of domestic abuse throughout the pandemic.

“Council services are responding to reports and providing support and guidance to the individuals and families affected.

“I’d urge anyone experiencing domestic abuse – or if anyone is worried about a friend or family member – to reach out for help.”

To report Domestic Violence call – West Lothian Domestic and Sexual Assault Team (DASAT) on 01506 281055 or email [email protected] for confidential and friendly support.