This is the official blog of ex-Sgt Ellie Bloggs. I was a real live police constable then sergeant for twelve years, on the real live front line of England. I'm now a real live non-police person. All the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't (or didn't) pay my salary.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Hiatus

Apologies for the recent absence. During the lull in your life which must be occurring in such period when I do not post on my blog, perhaps entertain yourself by perusing my archives. If you can't be bothered, or haven't yet figured out how to use the Scroll function on a web-page, read on.

As domestic violence is a subject likely to rear its head again in the near future, and I am likely to write something scathing and sarcastic about the police approach to it, instigating dozens of comments along the lines of "If you don't like it, leave" and "You murderer, you hate victims!", I have decided to reflect back on how domestic violence was dealt with two years ago, to see if we have moved on.

See below, first posted on 28th October, 2007.

But I loves him!

Victims of domestic violence are often criticised for staying with their partners. The police are then criticised for bringing prosecutions where the victim is unlikely to attend court and unlikely to be summoned against their will (for example where the assault is minor). If they don't bring these prosecutions, they are criticised.

It is common knowledge that most police officers joined the force thinking everyone would be happy and smiling with them and that no one would ever criticise anything they did. Therefore to avoid the horror of upsetting people, they weave a web of lies and deception to play down the seriousness of the domestics they attend. It is obviously in the police officer's interests to ensure that all victims they visit get murdered later on.

To this end, an array of auditing and checking mechanisms is in place to save the officer from their destructive desires. Any domestic I attend will mean a four page questionnaire. The first "check" occurs when I ask the victim to sign it, to confirm I didn't take it away and make up the answers.

Next my sergeant checks and signs it.

Now the form is split in two directions. The "virtual" version (which is where the same information was recorded on the Crime Management System in the first place), goes one way and the paper copy another.

In the Domestic Violence Unit, the paper version is checked by a civilian. Any blanks, obvious lies or failures and it will be sent back to the officer.

Next the civilian or pregnant officer carries out a telephone follow-up. This is a five page questionnaire with many more questions. Depending on the outcome, it goes into one of three different colour folders.

Meanwhile, the virtual version is at the Crime Desk being checked by the Investigation Supervisor. This is a PC who can check the work of patrol sergeants and override it.

Before long, a Scrutineer will have glanced over the virtual version. This time it's a civilian who monitors all crime reports to make sure we aren't missing the chance to arrest someone or solve a crime.

The supervisors of both DVU and the Crime Desk then check the work of the civilians and constables to make sure it is up to standard.

Several months later, an Auditor at Headquarters (I have no idea if this is a civilian or police officer or both) will check everything that has gone before.

All of this checking and re-checking is done whether or not there has been any previous problem with the original officer's work. Whether or not they have ever been accused of lying or laziness. Whether or not they have ever made a single mistake. And it's all in place to prevent victims of Domestic Violence from dying at the hands of their partner.

Which it doesn't.

Victims of Domestic Violence stay with their partners because it's DOMESTIC violence. That's what the word means. No amount of auditing and checking is going to stop that happening. Bureaucracy isn't the way to save someone who won't save themselves.

The day they do want saving, we'll be there. If we aren't too busy filling in the questionnaire at someone else's house.

Come back soon for the updated approach. Or just re-read the above.

'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had the paper based questionare thing introducted about 1 year ago to run in line with the computer based thing we've always had. The paper based bit was to be put in a tray and sent straight to DV PPU for them to check. I forgot to put my first few in and when I got no snoty email I realised no bugger was bothering their arses to check the blatently duplicated info. Therefore I've never bothered since thus halving my paper work at every domestic.

The question to why they stay with their violent partner I believe all boils down the the basic human need for familiarity, company and a shag. Its often too hard to be on your own even if it means getting a kicking or two. Especially if you are substance dependant as you already find it too hard to cope with normal life anyway.

I am afraid it has always gone on and as long as there will be relationships, booze / drugs, lifes problems and poor communication skills there will be domestic violence.

I have told many a green probationer that its like the cold virus. It is endemic, has a million and one mutations, most of us suffer at least a mild dose at some point in our lives and it will never be erradicated. All we can hope to do is to concentrate on the more virrulent strains and eradicate them for the good of humanity.


14 October, 2009 14:05

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Domestic Violence Unit, we have Domestic Abuse Unit, i think violence is seen as a nasty word and if we re-word it it will make things alot better........ sighhhhhhhh

15 October, 2009 11:39

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Similar ridiculous duplication in my Farce;
Similar waste of warranted officers doing back office jobs when they should be out on the streets- except they wouldn't be because they'd be inside filling in more forms for other government bean-counting exercises;
overall similar chronic waste of taxpayers' money.

15 October, 2009 14:28

Blogger PCDC-Copper Bottom said...

I worked in a PPU (Sex Offenders was my thing) and I saw a lot
of similarities with the victims of DV (opps... d/abuse)...

Both were groomed...

I think we are a bit 'wrong way around' with the way we deal
with DV/a etc... we should be focused on the offenders more
than the victims- they are the ones causing the problems...


15 October, 2009 16:04

Blogger quixote said...

JMO, when you say "both were groomed" do you mean some testing happened to see whether the victim was a likely prospect? Or something else?

15 October, 2009 17:19

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grooming can be a lot of things...

it's basically a form of conditioning- the offender will destroy the self confidence of the victim first- then gradually begin the abuse spiral...

eventually the victim feels they cant escape and wont pursue any complaints...

hence the old 'she will be back with him on monday' ...

although - the figures are more 1 in 4 women v 1 in 6 men- so much closer than we would be led to believe...


15 October, 2009 20:22

Anonymous TheBinarySurfer said...

Quite correct Bloggsy. However, the paperwork is not and has never been about ensuring the victim is safe - it's about accountability and blame which the paper trail assigns quite firmly (and usually completely wrongly).

On the subject of grooming - quite right. Serial abusers often start small deliberately and build levels via desensitisation. What starts as the threat of violence becomes a slap once the threat of violence is normal, and once the slap is normal becomes a punch, etc etc until a short stay in hospital is pretty standard - it's all about what is "normal" to you. People who've never been punched by their spouse before would be shocked and horrified by it - for whom it's a nightly occurance see it as "just another day" or "he loves me really" when its all about control really, not love.

16 October, 2009 09:21

Blogger Sarah said...

Just FYI the 1 in 6 men statistic includes stalking - if you remove stalking the figures for men plummet but the female victims figures stay the same.

Grooming is a very accurate description. Victims have usually got poor self image and lousy support networks before they get with the perp so they're easily groomed to believe that they are the problem in the relationship. It's not about "won't help themselves", when you've been raped more often than you can remember, you've got mental health issues, are economically dependant on your partner etc you often CAN'T help yourself.

A huge problem with DV is people's attitudes and this victim blaming "you should just leave". That pointless statement puts the attention and blame at the victims door even though it's the offender that commits the crimes.

One of the most important things an officer can do is turn up and actually listen to and support the victim and not judge them. Thing is, you can't type that in a questionnaire and send it off to be marked like a school essay so it's no use to the bureaucrats

16 October, 2009 11:31

Anonymous Anonymous said...

yup- I found a lot of cross -over in our jobs...

I think we are better than we have ever been- although I heard a story about a lady that was beaten every friday night after 'hubby' arrived home drunk... one day it went to the point of hospitalization...

the following day some officers went around and 'pointed out a few things to him' in so many words- the parting shot was 'if it happens again- you will get worse'...

stopped it over night- I always knew most bullies (and thats what ANY abuser is-bottom line) are cowards underneath...

16 October, 2009 18:24

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its still the same these days. Except we have to make all sorts of referrals to various partner agencies and get told off if we haven't. (By the DVU/DAU/DV&AU/DVT, DAVT. So what do THEY do?)

D.A makes me really sad. I so wish I could help. And I won't stop trying.

16 October, 2009 19:09

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I work in Aus, some of our procedures are quite different, I generally decide the action taken at dv incidents, and let the supervisor know what I'm doing, half the time due to development of staff, I have more of an idea than a supervisor of what I can do anyway. Only one person checks our entries on computer. They mainly check that all the necessary entries are completed, you have offered consuelling, entry and detention times etc.
The paperwork then goes to court if we are applying for an order. I check the paperwork myself.
Same here though, I often wonder why people stay, the post about grooming and gradual acceptance is very apt. Doesn't stop the feeeling that your wasting your time, arranging emergency accomodation, getting consuellors etc.

17 October, 2009 12:10

Blogger blueknight said...

I knew of several cases where the woman went from one violent abusive relationship to another.
There may be a reason why this happens, but I do not know what it is.

18 October, 2009 20:17

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thing is with DV, if it is serious DV, where the person really needs help, just like the adverts on TV where you see some poor old wifey with a black eye, i am more than happy to help, however 99% of the DV's are not like this. They are more like this :

Me : Er hello there, how can i help you?

Waynetta (very drunk - screaming): I want that cu~@t - fuc{#ng arrested!

Wayne (also pissed) : You fuc{#ng whore, why don't you just f@#k off!

On looking around, there are no signs of a disturbance, or injury on either Wayne or Waynetta (though i feel like giving them one).

Me : Can you please tell me what happened here?

Waynetta ; He fuc{#ng hit me, why don't you do your fuc{#ng job and arrest him.

I then attempt to detain Wayne, as an allegation has been made, and i need to cover my arse so i don't get sacked, no matter how dubious Waynetta's claim is.

Me : Wayne, look here mate, we need to head back to the station to sort this out.

I place cuffs on Wayne.

Waynetta : Don't fuc{#ng arrest him you cu@t! AAAAAAAAAAhhhhh you wan@er!

And it goes on from there, hardly like the adverts with the poor woman with a black eye, but these kinds of jobs are the ones that we have to deal with the vast majority of the time. The other ones are where Waynetta calls Wayne around to the house as she knows he has a bottle of White Lightning cider, he goes round, they both get pissed, Waynetta decides she doesen't want Wayne there any more, so calls the police saying DV has taken place, to ensure some hapless police officer like myself will attend and do her dirty work for her.

Welcome to the world of 'domestic violence.'

19 October, 2009 10:59

Anonymous Mac said...

Binary Surfer has it right. The forms have never, ever been about protecting victims. It's about protecting senior officers when the inevitable murder takes place. They can then claim 'I ensured a process is in place'.
I believe Shoesmith used a similar defence in the baby P case.

23 October, 2009 21:23

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article. I've just known about it from this information. Thanks for sharing.

24 October, 2009 01:55

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always felt this to be a difficult subject. There are too many variables and too loose a definition. I did a course with Women's Aid and there 'Duluth Wheel'. A man who snores or breaths to a woman's disliking would be guilty of Domestic Abuse.

If we live in a free society, then people are free to make their own mistakes and choices. A woman i know always goes for the bad boy types and is well-known to the DV team. We cannot put an order on her forbidding her to go out with unsuitable men. Similarly, i know of some husbands who stay with abusive females becuase they are scared they won't see their children if they split due to acts of spite.

At the other end of the spectrum you can have a couple going through extreme stress, bereavement, job loss, illness etc. 20 years of marriage and one act of frustration can see them in court.

We blame a lot of crime on broken homes, yet our policies on domestic violence do nothing but make that worse. Surely if an IP wants to salvage their relationship they should be allowed to do that without their spouse appearing in court? I'm only talking about minor assault here.

There is also the cases of false allegtions that never seem to get addressed. CCTV programme showed a case in Leeds where a woman got a friend to hit her so she could make a false allegation against her boyfriend. If it had not been for the camera recording, that man would have been convicted of a violent criminal offence.

What if there was a policy on police violence similar to that of DV? Any time an Officer used force, they will be arrested and charged to appear at court. It will then be down to the judge and jury to determine if the force was reasonable. People wouldn't make false allegations, would they? Just cause someone is winding up an officer doesnt justify the use of force, does it? Pushing someone on a demo?

If i recall correctly, Professor Waddington said something in one of the police magazines about how there is no duty on the police service to ensure nothing bad ever happens to anybody. I have given victims of crime advice in the past which they have ignored and have suffered again as a result. I have then seen them write 'the police did nothing to help me'. I wished i could have written 'they won't do anything to help themselves'.

Let's put CCTV in everyones house and monitor people daily. That would probably still not ensure DV did not happen. How much liberty are people prepared to surrender?

I was assaulted by my ex-wife years ago. I would have suffered far more emotional harm, as would my child, if i had made a complaint and got the police involved. I tried counselling with her, didn't work so i left. My son suffered abuse and i was not there to protect him. I have every sympathy for male victims who endure it so they are at least there to try and protect their children.

I have taken upon myself to visit households after cases have finished and talked to parties involved. Alcohol, drugs, stress play a large part. The truly evil, controlling personalities are in the minority of what i deal with.

Keep filling the forms in.... it may frustrate the decent officers, but if it helps stop the bad ones from neglecting people who need help it has to be done.

18 November, 2009 14:27


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