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Domestic Abuse and Stalking charges in Scotland, 2020-21

An Official Statistics publication for Scotland

A report on Domestic Abuse and Stalking charges in Scotland 2020-21 was published today. This provides information on charges reported to the Procurator Fiscal and identified as relating to Domestic Abuse. It includes information on charges under section 1 of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, following the implementation of this legislation on 1 April 2019.

The main findings are:

  • There were 33,425 charges reported in 2020-21 which were identified as being related to domestic abuse. This is the highest number reported since 2015-16 and is 9 percent higher than the number reported in 2019-20.
  • The vast majority of charges identified as being related to domestic abuse are prosecuted. An initial decision was made to proceed to court with 92 percent of charges in 2020-21, compared to 85 percent in 2013-14.
  • The most common types of offences reported in 2020-21 and identified as domestic abuse were breach of the peace type offences (31 percent, includes threatening and abusive behaviour and stalking offences), common assault (25 percent) and crimes against public justice (22 percent, includes bail offences).
  • The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 came into force on 1st April 2019, creating a new statutory offence of engaging in a course of behaviour which is abusive of a partner or ex-partner. In 2020-21, 1,581 charges were reported under this legislation, accounting for 4.7 percent of all domestic abuse charges reported. Ninety five percent of charges reported were prosecuted.
  • In 2020-21, 1,045 stalking charges under section 39 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 were reported to COPFS. Of these, 592 (57 percent) were identified as domestic abuse.


Additional Information


  1. A full copy of the publication can be accessed at Domestic Abuse and Stalking Charges in Scotland 2020-21.pdf (
  2. The figures quoted relate to the number of charges rather than the number of individuals charged or the number of incidents that gave rise to such charges.
  3. The publication does not include information on convictions or conviction rates. Many of the charges reported in 2020-21 will not yet have reached conviction stage. The Scottish Government Criminal Proceedings database is the usual source for convictions data, and they have published figures for years up to 2019-20 on people with a main charge proved with a domestic abuse aggravator recorded - see tables 12 and 13 at Criminal Proceedings in Scotland, 2019-20 This publication also includes figures for prosecutions and convictions under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018.
  4. The Joint Protocol ‘In Partnership: Challenging Domestic Abuse’ between COPFS and Police Scotland reflects the continuing commitment of police and prosecutors to addressing domestic abuse effectively and rigorously. The Protocol is regularly revised in consultation with key stakeholders representing the views of victims and children to ensure that it remains a reflection of current best practice and a meaningful source of guidance to investigators and prosecutors.