Violence Against Men

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:12 pm on 10th June 2010.

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Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour 4:12 pm, 10th June 2010

I accept that there is a general issue about crime statistics, given the number of violent incidents that are recorded in comparison with the 38 per cent figure in the Scottish crime and justice survey. There is an issue to do with getting the statistics right.

We need to consider and understand the causes of domestic violence. It is worrying and disappointing for all parties that in the devolution years, during which we have spent more money on services in health, education and justice, reported incidents of domestic abuse have gone up from just more than 49,000 to nearly 54,000. Analysis of the causes of domestic violence is a complex process, but the media have a job to do in relation to the role models that are promoted. As Johann Lamont said, there is a cultural issue. The world cup is coming up, and footballers are often promoted as role models in the media. I am a football supporter, but I have to say that all too often footballers behave inappropriately. Sometimes a footballer has ended up in the courts after an incident. It is little wonder that young men behave inappropriately. The issue to do with the media must be tackled.

We must also ensure that we can have confidence in the criminal justice system. Rape prosecutions are at their lowest level for 25 years, so it is clear that there is an issue that must be tackled. I welcome Rhoda Grant's work on her proposal for a member's bill on civil protection orders and access to justice, which would tackle issues to do with domestic abuse by men and women.

The introduction of a presumption against short-term sentences, which is proposed in the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill, would not help us to tackle domestic abuse. Some 93 per cent of sentences in domestic abuse cases are for less than six months, but if the bill were passed the perpetrators in such cases would not go to prison but be released into the community. The proposal is flawed and the SNP should think again.

Many key issues have been raised in the debate, which we must understand. I acknowledge the issue to do with violence against men, but, as Gil Paterson said in his thoughtful speech, we must acknowledge that domestic abuse affects more women than men. We must make progress on the issue so that we can bring safety and stability to the lives of men, women and children throughout Scotland.