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‘Don’t turn a blind eye’: Scots cops’ warning signs of domestic abuse over Christmas

Police want people to call them if they believe their neighbours could be the victim of domestic violence over the festive season.

As a result of Covid, victims are left stuck at home with their attacker, and police say it may be those living close by who will be the first to pick up on any signs of abuse.

Detective Inspector Gordon Patullo has spent the past five years working as part of Police Scotland’s Domestic Abuse Task Force, which targets the most high-risk domestic attackers who have a history of abusing partner after partner.

He said: “It’s often not as obvious as seeing someone come out of a house black and blue or being thrown out into the garden in just their underwear.



DI Gordon Patullo outside Forfar Police Station
DI Gordon Patullo outside Forfar Police Station

“Neighbours will often hear disturbances in a house or flat and either dismiss it or think it’s something that happens all the time and so turn a blind eye. Don’t turn a blind eye.

“It’s easy in hindsight to say, ‘I didn’t phone because of this’. But if you think there is ongoing domestic abuse, phone in and let us know.

DI Patullo’s team have secured convictions in cases involving some of Scotland’s worst repeat offenders.

He added: “A lot of the females we speak to who have been victims of significant abuse say that the mental trauma is often the worst part of the abuse.

“It could be that you notice a change in a person’s behaviour – they go from being bubbly in character to someone who’s withdrawn and not wanting to speak to people.



Police Scotland Detective Chief Superintendent Sam Faulds
Police Scotland Detective Chief Superintendent Sam Faulds

“Domestic abuse can be committed by anyone and there is no certain type of person that commits domestic abuse.

“Just because someone is in a good job or comes from a good family doesn’t mean they aren’t a domestic abuser.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Sam Faulds, head of Public Protection at Police Scotland, said: “This year our festive campaign is different. Since the start of the Covid- 19 pandemic, people have already been at home for extended periods of time, and we know that during lockdowns there have been victims of domestic abuse who have been locked down with the very person who perpetrates that abuse.

“Sometimes victims can’t contact us, which is why it’s so important the people around them who suspect something is going on can contact us on their behalf.

“People will have almost a gut instinct when it comes to being concerned about someone. By contacting us on their behalf, you could quite literally save a life.”

Latest Scottish Government figures show the number of domestic abuse incidents recorded by police in Scotland has risen for the fifth year in a row.

Police recorded 65,251 incidents of domestic abuse in 2020-21, an increase of four per cent compared with the previous year.

There were six homicides, 433 incidents of attempted murder and serious assault, and 470 cases of rape and attempted rape. Just over nine in 10 (91 per cent) of all domestic abuse incidents happened in a home.

Launched by Police Scotland tomorrow, the yearly campaign’s new approach aims to promote community awareness of the signs of domestic abuse.

Anyone concerned about the safety of a potential victim can contact police by calling 101, or in an emergency dialling 999.

They can also report their suspicions online through the Police Scotland website.

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