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Rise in convictions for domestic abuse
Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing has welcomed new figures showing a rise in the number of convictions for crimes relating to domestic abuse in Scotland, up from 5,204 in 2006-07 to 7,101 in 2008-09.
Mr Ewing said that the figures, revealed in a Parliamentary Question, demonstrated that those who commit such crimes were being punished by Scotland's law enforcement agencies.
A new offence fast-tracked by the Scottish Government last month will give prosecutors an even greater range of powers to bring about a conviction with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and Mr Ewing said that the full use of these new powers will be welcomed by the Scottish Government as it would the public who view domestic abuse as abhorrent.
The rise in convictions comes as figures out last week also showed that there has been a four per cent decrease in recorded incidents of domestic abuse.
Many cases are dealt with either as an assault offence, or as a breach of the peace offence, but a new offence of 'engaging in threatening or abusive behaviour' is now giving greater protection to victims of domestic abuse.
Mr Ewing said:
"The effects of domestic abuse can be devastating and we are doing everything we can to tackle it.
"We've done a lot of work to raise awareness that this behaviour is totally unacceptable, that help is available, and to encourage more people to come forward, safe in the knowledge that they will be supported.
"And Scotland's police forces are cracking down on these despicable crimes whenever and wherever they occur. But we must ensure that where these offences are carried out, those who commit them are brought to justice, so it is pleasing to see a rise in convictions.
"Whilst sentencing is a matter for individual judges and sheriffs, we must also ensure that they have the full range of powers available to them when considering the case before them.
"That is one reason why only last month, we fast tracked a new offence with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
"This new offence will give prosecutors an even greater range of powers and the full use of these new powers will be welcomed by the Scottish Government as it will be by the public as domestic abuse is abhorrent.
"We want to send out the message loud and clear that if you carry out this offence, Scotland's courts and prosecutors can ensure you face the full force of the law."