Nearly 1,700 crimes were recorded under Scotland’s new domestic abuse laws during their first year in force, figures have shown.
The Recorded Crime in Scotland report showed there had been 1,681 crimes reported under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, which came into force in April 2019.
The law created a new offence of abuse as a course of conduct towards a partner or ex-partner.
Meanwhile, the report showed sexual crimes have fallen for the first time in a decade, though remaining at the second-highest level since the 1970s.
The Scottish Government publication showed sexual crimes dropped by 1% from 13,547 to 13,364, the first time there has been a decrease since 2008/09.
Total crimes recorded in Scotland during the 2019/20 period remained almost unchanged from the previous year, increasing by less than 1% to 246,516.
The coronavirus lockdown was only in place for the final few days of the reporting year, so the bulletin’s authors say it is “unlikely to have had a significant effect”.
The report measures crimes which have come to the attention of the police as opposed to overall crimes experienced by the population.
Non-sexual crimes of violence increased by 16%, from 8,008 to 9,316.
This increase was due to the recording of the 1,681 new crimes under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018.
Crimes of dishonesty decreased by 3%, from 114,506 to 111,409, the lowest recorded level since 1971.
Fire-raising and vandalism crimes decreased by 1% from 47,997 the previous year to 47,731.
Noting the change in sexual crimes, the report said: “Sexual crimes have been on a long-term upward trend since 1974, with some fluctuations.
“Prior to the small decrease in 2019-20, there had been increases each year since 2008-09.”
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “I am pleased that victims of domestic abuse have confidence in the collective actions of Scotland’s police and wider justice and third sector partners, to come forward and report these cases.
“Reports under these new laws, which reflect the reality of many domestic abuse victims, account for the rise in overall non-sexual violence recorded by police last year.
“We must learn from our success in reducing violence on our streets to help keep people safer in their homes, in particular those who are subjected to, or at risk of, domestic abuse.
“That requires not just a government response, but a commitment across families, friends, and colleagues to help tackle the attitudes and behaviours that allow any form of domestic abuse to persist.”
Deputy chief constable Fiona Taylor said: “Police officers and staff work with commitment and a dedication to public service to build and maintain our peaceful and respectful way of life. Scotland remains a safe place to live and work.
“Our national, specialist resources support local policing to investigate thoroughly all allegations of criminality whether in the public, private or virtual space.
“We will continue to identify victims of sexual crime proactively, including complex, online and non-recent offending, and work with partners to encourage survivors to come forward.
“In addition, our cyber strategy outlines plans to create a National Centre of Excellence to expand our cybercrime capability.”