Violence Against Men

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:37 pm on 10th June 2010.

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Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative 4:37 pm, 10th June 2010

There may well be merit in that proposal but I think that that is an argument for another day.

I frankly concede that the majority of offenders are men and that the majority of victims are women. James Kelly gave certain statistics in that respect, which I am sure will be pretty accurate, as his figures usually are. However, an analysis of the available figures demonstrates that the majority is not quite as overwhelming as many—including me—may have thought.

Nigel Don was correct to refer, briefly, to correspondence from the UK Statistics Authority to the director of public prosecutions down south. I will also refer to it, because I think that it is particularly important. On the basis of a complaint, the UK Statistics Authority carried out an investigation, which is summed up by one paragraph in the letter from Professor Sir Roger Jowell, who is the authority's deputy chair, to the DPP. He states that a document that had been issued was incorrect and required clarification, in that

"It would appear that whilst the Home Office evidence does point to a majority of victims being women, the phrase 'overwhelming majority' is not justified in this context."

This week, in the House of Commons, an interesting maiden speech was given by Nicola Blackwood. Having researched the matter, she suggested that domestic abuse accounts for 16 per cent of violent crimes and affects one in four women and one in six men. She has clearly done her homework, and I think that those figures should concern us all.

Basically, however, we should be applying our minds and our not inconsiderable intellects—which I have seen demonstrated during this debate, which has featured many thoughtful and positive speeches—to the question of what we can do to make things better. I agree with James Kelly that the presumption against short prison sentences will not help. However, I think that certain things that the minister has brought forward most certainly will.

It is important that there should be a change of language. An acknowledgement of that is reflected in the Government's motion and in the fact that we are having this debate.

Another serious issue, which was highlighted by Mike Rumbles and Christine Grahame, concerns the police and their reaction to domestic violence. However, the issue is not quite as simple as was claimed by those speakers. I suggest that we put ourselves in the position of a Glasgow police officer who has come to a house on the basis of a 999 call from neighbours who have heard a disturbance and sounds of violence. Before us are a man and a woman, both showing signs of having been in a struggle, with red marks on their faces and arms. Both have been drinking, and there are two or three young children in the house. The police face a real danger in that situation. The police can warn them, which might not be appropriate, or they can take someone away. In those circumstances, what would we do? Would we leave the children in the house without the woman present, or would we arrest the man? It is so much easier to let the fiscal sort it out, once the matter has been reported, and to let the court sort it out, if the prosecution runs.