How many more women must die before the Government focuses on the real problem? It feels like murder after murder of women by men followed by report after review after report. And yet still the Government is resistant to bringing about real change that focuses on the men who cause the most harm.
Just over the weekend there were two more murders of women, one in Doncaster, the other in Solihull. Neither women have been named as yet. Both were found dead in their homes. Two separate men have been arrested.
These are not isolated incidents. That’s now five Doncaster women who have been wiped off the face of the earth by a man in their lives in seven weeks. These are not first time abusers and this is not going to stop until action is taken to proactively identify, assess and manage the perpetrators and for there be a real consequence for their behaviour – before they escalate murder.
I feel I need to make this very plain in the hope that the Government namely Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Home Secretary Priti Patel, Minister Victoria Atkins, Justice Minister Robert Buckland and Alex Chalk MP as well as Baroness Williams are listening. What follows is in direct response to the current resistance encountered, so please do take heed or more women will needlessly die:
1. We are not asking for a separate register. We are asking for join up, collaboration, consistency, data collection, a co-ordinated and problem-solving approach led by statutory agencies charged with public protection to include serial domestic violence perpetrators and stalkers in their remit working with specialist charities and organisations.
2. For too long the focus has been on repeat victims – we need to shift that focus to serial and serious/high risk perpetrators – those who cause the harm.
3. Domestic violence and stalking are the only crimes where that does not happen – with catastrophic consequence.
4. Every 4 days a woman is murdered by a (ex)partner.
5. 5 women a week were murdered across lockdown. The men who murdered them are not first-time abusers.
6. Responding in an uncoordinated way is costly – the human cost is immense so too is the financial cost (£66 billion a year to society, £2million per murder to investigate and all the call outs @ £1000-1500 each attendance by law enforcement at a home address).
7. Many domestic violence perpetrators and stalkers commit other crime outside the home – some escalate to rape and murder. They include Ian Huntley, Levi Bellfield, Peter Tobin, John Taylor, John Duffy and David Mulcahy, Anthony Hardy and terrorist Khalid Masood (born Adrian Russell Elms). We have an opportunity to intervene and prevent domestic abuse, stalking, serial murders and terrorism. Why would you not want to do that?
8. We need a cultural shift where the statutory agencies understand that these men are dangerous and questions must be asked of them – MAPPA and ViSOR provide the framework and the database.
9. There must be governance, case management and sharing of information and intelligence across the UK – again MAPPA and ViSOR provide the framework.
10. There has been report after report, review after review year on year highlighting the chasm and lack of join up regarding offender management and serial perpetrators including:
- ACPO/NPCC 2003 Report Findings from Domestic Homicide Reviews in London
- Metropolitan Police Service 2004 Report Getting Away With It: A Profile of the Sexual and Serious Domestic Violence Perpetrators
- Bichard Inquiry Report 2004
- HMIC Report 2014 highlighted the lack of risk management and join up around perpetrators and noted this happens routinely for volume crime
- HMIC Progress Report 2015 neglected to mention perpetrators. This seems to be a huge oversight from the oversight group.
- ACPO/NPCC 2009 Report Tackling Perpetrators of Violence Against Women and Girls highlighted a critical gap in identifying and problem solving perpetrators and made the recommendation for an urgent need to improve management, of serial perpetrators of violence against women and girls
- All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Stalking Law Reform Report 2012 which Justice Minister Robert Buckland was a member of, and with a clear recommendation that serial stalkers must be included and managed by MAPPA
- Priti Patel MP report Rebalancing the Scales Prioritising Victims in the CJS 2013 highlighted the lack of join up of men with violent histories and need for proactive identification, assessment and management
- Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service Reports and Briefings 2015 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
- HMIC/CPSI Living in fear 2017 Report on Stalking highlighting a 100% failure rate in all cases and no risk management for perpetrators
- Alex Chalk MP 2016 Report to Increase Sentences For Stalkers made the recommendation to identify, assess and manage serial stalkers
- Murder reviews including Domestic Homicide Reviews and there are too many to highlight but of note are Kerri McAuley, Hollie Gazzard, Cherylann Shennan, Alice Ruggles, Kirsty Treloar and Jayden Parkinson. Serious Case Reviews, again too many to name all of them over the years but of note are five year old Alex Malcolm, Victoria Climbié and baby Peter Connolly. In some cases there are 11 reviews following a murder.
- Independent Office of Police Complaints Reviews – numerous reports including Maria Stubbings, Christine and Shania Chambers, Jeanette Goodwin and many others.
- Many reports and briefings from myself including 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 https://www.laurarichards.co.uk/stalking-law-reform/
- I published ‘Terrorism Begins At Home’ on Monday 6 July 2020 which details the evidence base for change, the costs of doing nothing about perpetrators, data and many cases as well as powerful testimonies from victims, survivors and families and professionals across 24 pages spanning my 25 years working cases.
Despite this, at the conclusion of the Third Reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill on July 6, Minister Victoria Atkins in response to MP Yvette Cooper’s excellent speech about serial perpetrators, said that the Government would ‘keep this under review.’
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Exactly how many more reports and reviews are needed when women continue to be brutally murdered and the domestic homicide rate is at a five year high, prior to lockdown?
We really do not need any more reports. We need action and join up and a firm commitment to tackle perpetrators.
The Minister also mentioned that the College of Policing has a new risk process that they are trialling. They have been ‘trialling’ this for five years, at the expense of women’s lives. It’s a shame they are not focusing their time, energy and resource training police services on coercive control and stalking – but curiously this is something they charge forces for. Why is that? (That’s not a rhetorical question, it’s confounding).
Primary legislation is urgently needed and the Government should act now. We should not underestimate the fact that no perpetrator wants to be on a register, particularly domestic abusers and stalkers, and we also have to acknowledge that some of these men are psychopaths who abuse significant women in their lives and rape and murder those they do not know. They are very dangerous when their behaviour is left unchecked.
No amount of moving women, hiding women or telling them to change their phone number is going to keep them safe. Culture change will only happen through law and focusing on the problem of male violence. Women are being failed. We must make violent men visible and accountable.