POLICE in Fife are preparing for a possible "tsunami" of domestic abuse cases when coronavirus restrictions are over.

The number of violent and abusive offences taking place in the home rose by 2.7 per cent between April and December in Fife last year compared to the same period in 2019 with 73 more reported incidents.

Speaking at a meeting of Fife Council's environment and protective services sub-committee, Fife Chief Superintendent Derek McEwan said he had concerns of a "tsunami" of abuse taking place because of lockdown.

"When we went through the pandemic, I had a genuine fear that domestic abuse reports were going to drop significantly," he said.

"We have not seen a reduction of domestic abuse during the pandemic. It doesn't give me comfort because individuals are still being abused but we are still having the reporting levels that we had before."

Rosyth councillor Sharon Green-Wilson said: "My understanding is that at the beginning of the pandemic, reports of domestic abuse went down but as the pandemic has continued, the reports have escalated."

Chief Superintendent McEwan acknowledged this could be the case and outlined to councillors measures they were taking in their bid to tackle domestic abuse cases.

"It difficult to try and quantify how much unreported crime could come to us," he said. "Take COVID out of the equation and some of our figures are on a par with other years. We are at the same level at what we were before.

"What we can't ignore is people in abusive relationships have been spending more time behind closed doors. We are acutely aware that that tsunami will come.

"We have bolstered our public protection unit, our domestic abuse unit and our child protection unit in order to try and deal with reports that come in to have more officers available to get in there and support them.

"Without a shadow of a doubt, there is unreported crime and for us, it is trying to get into that domestic setting in a fashion that doesn't expose individuals to more risk than they already have experienced.

"We have close relationships with third sector groups. We are still managing to work out a plan to get ourselves in that house to support women and that will continue.

"It is not even a 'wait and see' because we are being proactive to try and generate these complaints now."