PC Bloggs Investigtes... the DV Murder
I don't know how often most police areas receive calls like that, but in Blandmore it's less than once a year. Across the force, just a handful of people are murdered by their partner or ex-partner each year. That's enough to form a decent percentage of our murders and to support the statistic that - if you are female and murdered, there is about an 80% chance it was done by a lover, past or present.
A Domestic Violence murder always makes the blood run cold in the morning meeting. The superintendent spends several hours in the crazed hope that the couple have never come to police attention before, as if normal, non-abusive partners just suddenly wake up one day and kill each other. When the inevitable previous incident/s is/are discovered, the Blame Standard Operating Procedure is pulled off the intranet and kicked into action.
The purpose of the Blame SOP is to negate the chance of a Homicide Review. If a force can identify its own failings and show how it's fixed them, a Review might not take place exposing failings which are not so easily fixable. For example, the chances are, the murderer has been arrested before for domestically abusing the same victim, or a different victim. If that is the case, there will be a slew of officers names involved the previous cases, any of whom are probably wholly responsible for the murder.
The SOP goes as follows:
- Locate the last officer to arrest the murderer for a domestic-related offence. Failing that, any offence.
- Dredge up the paperwork and scour it for undotted i's and t's lacking in crosses. List them on a Catalogue of Errors.
- Listen to the interview tapes from the officer's interview. If any questions in the whole world that could have been asked, weren't, add them to the Catalogue.
- If the offender was not charged with the offence of criminal damage/common assault he had been arrested for, locate the person who made that decision and include their name in your paperwork. Ask them why they made the decision, then discard their reply.
- Search through both officers' previous cases and hope to find one where a similar Catalogue of Errors occured.
- Draft a report suggesting that the officers should be fired.
- At no point during any of the above should the question be considered whether there was anything realistically that the police could have done to prevent the murder.
Every day, people abuse their partners and fail to go onto murder them. Every day, victims refuse to support police proceedings and live with their decision. Some don't. If we were able to tell the difference before it happened, we could save a lot of time. Because we can't, we spend all our time making sure that if and when the Blame SOP is triggered, it isn't our name on the decision that caused the murder.
The way I see it, we've got two choices:
Either we allow the police/courts to prosecute and convict people on little or no evidence, and without the support of the victim. In other words, we take over people's lives for them and tell them exactly what to do and who to fall in love with. Or we accept that DV murders will happen, and sometimes there is nothing anyone can do to stop them. Excepting of course the murderer himself, but then again his part in all this is by-the-by.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.