Reporting your partner to the police

If you have experienced domestic abuse, you have a right to report this to the police.

How to report a crime

Phone Police Scotland on 101. All police forces now have officers who are specially trained to deal with domestic abuse.

If it’s an emergency, phone 999. The police should deal with domestic abuse incidents as priority.

How the police should respond

The police treat domestic abuse very seriously.

When you contact them they can:

Put you in touch with agencies which can help.

Help you find somewhere safe to stay or help you make your own home secure.

Help you get medical attention if you are injured.

Arrest your partner/ex-partner and bring charges against them.

If there is enough evidence that a crime has been committed and that your partner/ex-partner is responsible, the police will make the decision to arrest and detain them. It is not up to you. If you are worried about this speak to the police Domestic Abuse Unit.

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What the police do when you contact them

Firstly, they will check to see if you are injured and if you need medical treatment.

The police will interview you. They will ask you questions about what happened and when, and whether anyone else saw or heard the incident. They should interview you separately from your partner. If you have injuries, the police will get a report from medical staff and they may want to take photos.

You can ask to speak to a woman police officer although this might not always be possible. You will usually be interviewed at home or at the scene of the incident. You can ask for someone to be with you as long as they are not a witness.

The police will also interview your partner and any witnesses. This may include neighbours who may have heard what took place or older children in the household.

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What happens to your partner/ex-partner?

The police will interview your partner/ex-partner if they are still at the scene.

The police may take your partner/ex-partner into custody if they think they have enough evidence that an incident has taken place.

Once charged, the police may keep your partner/ex-partner in custody until they appear in court (usually the next working day) or, exceptionally, may release your partner/ex-partner before this. They will base their decision on various factors and they will take your safety into account. If they are not detained in custody, your partner/ex-partner will need to sign an ‘undertaking’ agreeing to attend court when they are required to do so.

Police bail can be asked for to stop your partner returning to the home until he appears at court.

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What the police do with the evidence they collect

The police compile a report using the statements from you, your partner and any witnesses together with any medical reports and other evidence. They then send this report to the Procurator Fiscal (PF).

The PF is the official from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service who decides whether a case goes to court and which court it should go to. The PF is independent from the police and the court and does not have to explain this decision.

If the PF decides to prosecute, your partner/ex-partner will need to go to court to plead guilty or not guilty. If they plead not guilty a date will be set for a trial. Your partner/ex-partner will usually be released ‘on bail’ on condition that they do not re-offend before the case goes to trial. There may be ‘special conditions’ attached to the bail, for example to stop your partner/ex-partner from coming near you.

The fact that you have reported your partner/ex-partner will go on record. This is useful if you have to go to the police again. The Domestic Abuse Unit can continue to provide you with support and advice.

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If you change your mind after reporting the incident

Once you report your partner/ex-partner to the police, the police will send a report to the PF if there is enough evidence. It is up to the PF to decide what action should be taken. It is not possible for you to withdraw your complaint or ‘drop the charges’. If you are anxious about what is happening, speak to the police Domestic Abuse Unit or contact Falkirk & District Women’s Aid.

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Women's Aid service user