HMIC Report – Police Failing Women
This morning saw the release of the HMIC report on the failing by police forces to tackle domestic abuse.
This is a national problem and the police are failing in their duty to protect the public.
The number of women who experience domestic abuse are so high that it can be considered a pandemic. In the UK alone, 22 women were killed as a result of male violence in the first eight weeks of 2014. In most cases, the perpetrators are known to the police, and in most cases the police have previously been alerted to incidents of violence.
There are a number of stock phrases which are trotted out whenever the police are required to answer for their shocking lack of commitment to the protection of women.
1) “It was/is an isolated incident”
Well no, actually, it's not. Anyone who knows anything about domestic abuse knows that this is a pattern of coercive control that builds up. Anyone who's had even one days training on domestic abuse can tell you that women are likely to have experienced up to 37 incidents of violence or abuse before they report. So no. It's not an isolated incident and by
calling it that you deny the reality of domestic abuse.
2) “It couldn't have been prevented”
Yes, it could. There are so many cases where women asked the police for help because they were frightened of their abuser, and the police didn't take her seriously. The case of Cassandra Hasanovic comes to mind. She had reported her perpetrator to the police and plans were in place for her to be placed in a refuge. She was so petrified of her ex-partner
that she asked the police to accompany her to the refuge. The police refused and her ex-partner murdered her on the way. Couldn't have been prevented? Oh I think it could, don't you?
3) “Lessons will be learned”
Will they? I don't see any evidence at all that any lessons are ever learned. The same mistakes' are made over and over again. Serious Case Reviews are completed and a litany of oversights, unsafe practice and failures to protect are evident for all to see. What is done to make sure these lessons are learned? We never find out and I suspect that we know the answer.
None of this is new. Like Sunday’s Girls and Gangs report from the Centre for Social Justice, the information is already out there. We KNOW all this. And how do we know? Because women's services, women's organisations, women full stop, have been telling you for years.
Women’s Aid continue to campaign about it, women have protested about it, petitioned about it, complained about it. Still nothing.
Oh actually, something is done.
Funding is cut.
If, as a society, we start focusing on the perpetrators of domestic violence instead of blaming, dismissing or ignoring the victim, we might actually start to prevent this happening. There is an entrenched culture of disbelief within many statutory agencies - of which the police are one. When women say they are scared, they minimise those feelings. When women say they think their perpetrator will kill them, they tell them they are overreacting.
One of the ways you can prevent domestic homicides is by believing women.
So excuse me if I don't jump for joy that a report tells me what I already know.
Don't ask me to be pleased that it's a step in the right direction.
Don't remind me that it all helps to raise awareness.
What reports like this actually do is reinforce the lack of value placed on women. If you really cared about us, you would have been listening a long time ago.