DOMESTIC abuse crimes will not drop despite the fact there will be no Old Firm league clashes next season, a women's campaigner has warned.
Clashes between Rangers and Celtic have long been a flashpoint for domestic abuse, but psychologist Dr Mairead Tagg says Women's Aid centres will still be "stowed out" regardless.
The number of domestic abuse incidents recorded by Strathclyde Police rockets on Old Firm days. On September 18 last year there were 138 cases reported, against an average of 94.
And 174 crimes were reported on Feburary 20 last year.
But Dr Tagg, who has worked at Glasgow East Women's Aid for almost 20 years, said: "I know the police say there is a big spike, and I am sure there is from their arrest figures, but these are people who use domestic abuse.
"The fact they used it after a football match is a trigger. These are people who are likely to be abusing at other times where perhaps the connections are not quite so clear."
Dr Tagg said the Old Firm was a "distraction". She added: "For me and the women I work for, until we educate what a healthy, appropriate relationship is we are going to continue to be stowed out.
"We are really busy whether there is an Old Firm game or not. We do not have these spikes after an Old Firm game."
Police now have measures in place to tackle violence behind closed doors during and after Old Firm clashes by visiting known perpetrators before the games start to warn them not to commit crime and by offering support to victims.
It is unlikely Rangers and Celtic will meet next season unless they are drawn together for a cup tie.
Chief Superintendent Bob Hamilton, of Strathclyde Police's Anti-Violence Directorate, stressed that domestic abuse remains a very high priority for the force.
However, he said: "Tackling domestic abuse is an continuing challenge and, through analysis, we know there are certain times, periods or events, throughout the calendar year, which can trigger an increased number of incidents, i.e, Ne'erday, Boxing Day, Valentine's Day and dates connected to Rangers v Celtic.
"Around these and other identified periods we ensure sufficient routine and specialist resources target perpetrators through intervention and enforcement measures, as well as providing support to victims, along with our partners.
"These tactics have proven successful and will continue to be employed in an effort to reduce domestic abuse."
"Domestic abuse is one of our very high priorities and we will continue to be relentless in our pursuit of its perpetrators using every means at our disposal."