Scottish police are urging more gay and lesbian victims of domestic violence to come forward.

One thousand incidents of domestic abuse among same-sex couples were reported in Scotland in the last year but it is thought the true number of incidents could be as high as 4,000.

To encourage more people to report such crimes, police have now set up third-party reporting systems and victims can now report crimes online. Although these reports cannot be used as a basis for prosecution, it is hoped they will increase confidence in the police.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter McPike of Strathclyde’s Domestic Abuse Task Force told the Scotsman he believed many LGBT people did not report domestic violence because they were scared of being outed.

He said that although there were 50,000 reported domestic violence incidents in Scotland last year, only a thousand of these involved lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans people. It is thought that between six and nine per cent of the population is gay or bisexual.

He added: “People can now tell us things in confidence. People don’t always want the police turning up at their doors with flashing blue lights. We need to build up the trust of people in the LGBT community. We want them to know that we would never take any action that would expose the victim.”

Stonewall research of lesbians has found that one in four have experienced domestic violence and four out of five who were a victim did not report incidents to police.