Calls for specialised domestic abuse courts to come to Ayrshire have been made by a Kilwinning politician.

Scottish Labour MSP Katy Clark has used a parliamentary motion to call on the Scottish Government to lay out a strategy for a roll out of the specialist courts across the country adding that recent statistics show that Scotland is moving backwards, not forwards, in tackling domestic abuse.

Clark, who was also appointed Baroness of Kilwinning in the House of Lords, added that the specialised courts could be vital for victims.

Last month, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) published figures that showed the number of charges related to domestic abuse last year was the highest since 2015-16.

There were 33,425 charges reported in 2020-21, an increase of nine per cent on the year before. Of these, 5,155 charges with a domestic abuse identifier were reported in the North Strathclyde sheriffdom, which includes Kilmarnock Sheriff Court which hears offences committed in the North Ayrshire area.

Furthermore, new figures for 2018-19 released earlier this week showed domestic abuse reconviction rates increased on the previous year, and are now notably higher than in 2009-10.

Clark said: “Unfortunately, the stats suggest we’re moving backwards, not forwards, when it comes to tackling domestic abuse.

“Specialist courts are key if we want to effectively prevent and prosecute domestic abuse. Women’s aid charities have been clear in their support for them. Domestic abuse cases can put victims at emotional or physical risk.

“This means we need processes that minimise these risks and take into account the often complex circumstances victims face, including at the sentencing stage.

“We also need to analyse and evaluate the outcomes of existing specialist domestic abuse courts in Glasgow and Edinburgh, with a view to rolling them out across the country.”