Police and Domestic Violence: What we’re not talking about
Media coverage of the two unnamed police officers who referred to a woman who was experiencing domestic violence as a 'fucking slag' and a 'bitch' in a conversation recorded by her voicemail has been intense. Much of it has been very clear about issues with the first investigation made by West Midlands Police which led Alex Fargher to file a formal complaint with the IPCC. The IPCC upheld the complaint and referred the case to the CPS who are now investigating.
What hasn't been mentioned within media coverage, and any coverage of police failures to deal appropriately with domestic violence, is the fact that that police officers are 2-4 times more likely to commit domestic violence than the general population. We need to start contextualising police failures to appropriately investigate domestic violence by recognising that many of the officers sent to investigate domestic violence are, in fact, perpetrators.This is complicated by the fact that many police forces prefer top-down training wherein senior officers receive specialist training in domestic violence from relevant organisations and are then expected to pass this training onto other officers. How can we be certain that the officers doing the training are not perpetrators? Or, that officers in the training sessions aren't perpetrators? How can we trust that training includes the reality of male violence? That officers truly understand the gendered nature of violence when their own officers perpetrate the very crimes they are supposed to be investigating.
The case currently dominating the press is not about police officers who are perpetrators, but rather two officers who clearly don't think domestic violence is a serious crime. The problem isn't just two officers; it;s a culture of violence within the police themselves. We need to start talking about domestic and sexual violence perpetrate by police officers as a culture of violence, rather than pretending they are isolated events. We also need to draw the lines between officers who are perpetrators and officers who fail to investigate appropriately. They are two sides of the same coin.