More than half the people who have used an abuse disclosure scheme launched five years ago were told their current partner has a violent or abusive past, according to figures.
Police Scotland’s Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland (DSDAS) was launched on October 1, 2015.
The scheme aims to tackle and prevent domestic abuse by enabling people to request information from the police, and requests can also be made on their behalf by a family member, friend or neighbour.
The system has received 8,533 requests since it launched and of those, 4,536 people (53%) were told of their current partner’s violent or abusive past.
Assistant Chief Constable Judi Heaton, Police Scotland’s lead for Major Crime and Public Protection, said: “Behind the numbers are people who have either escaped becoming victims of domestic abuse, or who are now aware of their partner’s abusive past.
“Abusers manipulate and control their victims. Incidents of abuse are often followed by apologies before the abuse begins again.
“It can be very difficult for victims of domestic abuse to recognise their situation and to then take action to get themselves out of it.
“DSDAS provides that first step. It can help prevent domestic abuse and the long-term damage it can cause victims, their families and their children. It can save lives.”
There was a 34% increase in DSDAS applications during lockdown, and police recorded a steady rise in the number of domestic abuse incidents being reported.
Ms Heaton added: “We want people to be safe. The disclosure scheme is effective in helping prevent abuse, even in our current situation.
“We recognise how difficult lockdown and the Covid-19 situation has been and continues to be for many people. We are here to help.
“Equally, if you are concerned that someone you know, a relative, a friend or a neighbour, may be a victim of domestic abuse, then make the call either to Police Scotland or one of our partner agencies.”
In the first four years of the scheme, police received 5,508 applications and made 2,902 disclosures – a 52% disclosure rate.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Domestic abuse is an absolutely abhorrent crime and will not be tolerated, holding perpetrators to account will continue to be a priority for the Scottish Government.
“We supported the launch of Police Scotland’s disclosure scheme and five years on I am pleased to see the success it has had in helping safeguard those who have been suffering from, or at risk of, domestic abuse.
“The fact that more than half of those who contacted the service were told of their partner’s violent or abusive past highlights the real difference this scheme is making.
“We will continue to work closely with criminal justice and third sector partners on our shared aim of completely eradicating domestic abuse.”
Anyone in need of support can contact Scotland’s domestic abuse and forced marriage helpline on 0800 027 1234, or police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.