A TOTAL of 33 crimes reported across West Dunbartonshire during a three month period last year were coercive control – a type of domestic abuse.

Between October and December, 152 violent crimes were recorded by Police Scotland, compared to 119 in the same period the previous year.

However, 33 were reported under the new law which came into force in April 2019, which criminalises psychological domestic abuse.

Chief Superintendent John Paterson, West Dunbartonshire divisional commander, said at last week’s community planning meeting: “The figures will be the same number as last year if you take the 33 away – as that law didn’t exist last year.

“The new legislation is having a real positive impact.”

The total number of domestic abuse crimes increased from 462 to 631.

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The top cop also told the meeting that sexual crimes have increased but around half (48 per cent) reported were “non-recent” – which means the crime could have occurred weeks or even years previously.

He added: “That’s people now got the confidence to come forward. We have created a collective multiagency environment where people feel they now have the confidence and trust come forward.”

A Police Scotland report states that sexual crimes have increased from 118 in 2018 to 157 in 2019. This includes crimes relating to indecent images and communications.

Mr Paterson also said that he will be adding domestic violence as well as missing persons to the local police plan for the next few years.

He added: “Last year, during the three month period, there were just a little short of 200 missing person reports. This is a huge drain in resources.”

Five people accounted for 28 per cent of the 193 missing person incidents that were reported across West Dunbartonshire.