Jason Smith had a history of abusive behaviour with other women before he met Zoe Dronfield.
They met online and they seemed to have a lot on common.
Smith did not tell Zoe about his history and neither did West Midlands Police, despite Zoe reporting Smith multiple times for abusive behaviour towards her.
When Zoe ended the relationship with Smith, he escalated his behaviour and tried to kill her.
Zoe was victim number 18.
If Zoe had known about Smith’s history of offending she may have made different decisions – at least she would have had vital information to make an informed decision.
There should be a duty on the police to proactively identify serial stalkers and domestic abuse offenders.
These are the most dangerous of offenders and police have consistently failed to take domestic abuse an stalking seriously.
Women’s safety and protection is not a priority. Victims are still not being believed or taking seriously.
We must ensure culture change happens and the police investigated the perpetrators, just like they would a terrorist, organised criminal and/or serial robber or burglar.
All Smith’s history was within West Midlands Police service, but no-one checked the databases and she was told to find herself a new boyfriend when she reported him for domestic abuse and stalking.
Mother-of-two Zoe spent weeks in hospital recovering from bleeding to the brain, a stab wound to her neck and a broken right arm inflicted during an eight-hour ordeal at the hands of Smith, who was subsequently jailed for 10 years, with a further four on licence, in March 2015
There is currently no duty on police and probation to proactively identify, assess and manage serial domestic violence abusers and stalkers despite the fact that many go from one victim to the next and cause harm to so many.
Some escalate to murder like Smith and Simon Mellors who didn’t kill once. Mellors killed two women, Janet Scott and Pearl Black. Agencies apologise and say they will ‘learn the lessons’. They have been saying this for decades yet nothing changes. It is still now a priority, despite highlighting case after case where women are murdered.
We must focus on the perpetrators, those who commit the harm, and who are currently allowed to offend with impunity.
There must be a real world consequence for their abusive behaviour. Why are they not the focus?
The Domestic Abuse Bill presents an opportunity to create real change. However, currently stalking and serial perpetrators are not even included and only 1% of perpetrators get any intervention. We have to change this.
Serial domestic abusers and stalkers should be included on the Violent and Sex Offenders Register and managed via the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements. The system already exists but should be enhanced to ensure join up of intelligence and information.
With MAPPA, the prison and probation service lead and chair meetings as well as police, which is why MAPPA is the correct forum, however, it must be enhanced to MAPPA+.
MAPPA+ would include other specialist domestic violence agencies including specialist caseworkers like Independent Domestic Violence Advisers and Caseworkers and stalking services including Independent Stalking Advocacy Caseworkers must be invited to attend, as they hold the specialist knowledge about the dynamics of coercive control and stalking.
How would MAPPA+ work in practice?
A new category under MAPPA+ should be introduced: Category 4 Serial, Repeat, High Risk Domestic Violence and/or Stalking Perpetrators.
Police, Probation and Prison must proactively identify serial perpetrators under this new Category 4 and co-ordinate a risk management plan to engage, problem solve and/or target perpetrators.
Serial is defined as two or more victims where the perpetrator has been convicted for one domestic violence and/or stalking related offence, caution, acquittal or where orders exist including a Domestic Violence Protection Order, Stalking Protection Order, Restraining Order, Non-Molestation Order, Criminal Behaviour Order and/or Violent Offender Order. The category must also include those thought to be at risk of offending.
These orders must be used along with clear positive obligations just like Risk of Sexual Harm Orders are used for sex offenders. Positive obligations would be placed on a perpetrator including:
1. They must attend a treatment programme;
2. If they change their name, they must notify police;
3. If they move they must notify police;
4. If they go abroad they must notify police;
5. If they start a new relationship, they must notify police.
A Serial Priority Perpetrator Caseworker would be required in every area to work across Police and partner agencies, funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner. They would have responsibility for collating and assessing cases and selecting them to be heard at MAPPP+.
This will change the culture, hold violent men to account and responsible for their behaviour and it will save lives by protecting women, ensuring that it is the perpetrators who are pro-actively monitored and managed.
They are the most dangerous of offenders, with a supercharged sense of entitlement and high levels of manipulation. Some are psychopaths.
Their behaviour should be monitored and managed, forcing them to take responsibility for their actions. This will shift the culture from focusing on and blaming the victim to focusing on the perpetrator and closing down their space for action.