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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Friday, June 10, 2011

Shock: they were known to the police.

Whatever happened to the lawsuit threatened against Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Proseuction Service, following the tragic murder of Sabina Akhtar in 2008?

For those who don't remember, Sabina was stabbed to death days after the CPS decided to drop a case against her husband - it is unclear what offence was being considered but it followed a catalogue of violence and threats.  Despite the CPS apology, the charity Refuge has gone awfully quiet after their public denunciation of the police and prosecution service.

Believe it or not, it is highly unusual for someone to suddenly awake one day and decide to murder their partner.  Most humans possess the ability to weather divorce, financial hardship, infidelity and loss of custody without becoming hammer-wielding maniacs.  When a murder occurs, therefore, there are really only two explanations:
  1. The perpetrator was afflicted with a mental malady so sudden and overwhelming that s/he genuinely and truly was not in control of his/her actions.  In rare cases, this could be a one off, more normally the person is incurably ill and ends up here afterwards. 
  2. The killer is a violent bastard who has always functioned with the belief that his/her partner/family either remains with him and under his control, or dies.  The murder is either the result of a routine beating gone wrong, or a reaction to the victim leaving.
In the case of no.2 above, which describes the majority of domestic murders, people are still surprised/shocked to hear that the couple Were Known To The Police already.  The concept that a violent and cruel thug might have come to police attention before the day he accidentally/deliberately took his violence to the next level appears hard to grasp.

As a police officer regularly attending reports of domestic violence, and now even more regularly signing off reports by officers who have attended them, confirming that I agree with their actions, the burden is heavy.  I suppose I must have good instincts: none of the hundreds of domestic incidents I have written off as "low" risk have resulted in a murder.  Or would it be more accurate to say that of the hundreds of thousands of domestic incidents occurring nationwide, the proportion resulting in murder is microscopic?  And that none of the domestic incidents I have written off have resulted in a murder - Yet.

I hope that Refuge has decided against its lawsuit for Sabina Akhtar.  Those who batter their other halves will not be quaking in their boots at the thought of a Health and Safety tribunal against their local force. Domestic violence will not be stopped by extending the risk assessment by another two pages, nor by disciplining officers who were unaware that in two years' time the woman screaming at them to get out of her house is going to end up dead.
Instead, victims' memories would be better served by Refuge's continuing campaign to offer safe haven to those who flee abuse, working with the police to develop better and more efficient ways of prosecuting when victims do cooperate, and educating the wider public to take some responsibility for what is going on around them, in their streets, in their homes.

Perhaps Refuge could use the money set aside to sue GMP, to visit the neighbours of Christine Chambers in Essex and ask them: if they knew, as was shouted at the police outside her door, that Christine and her toddler were going to meet such a gruesome end, what exactly did THEY do to try and prevent it?

I don't like the term Big Society.  But if were're going to use it, let's do so properly.

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


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another brilliant post.

What are your views on the police engaging more with the likes of Shami Chakrabarti?

Surely getting her to the front line, giving her & others of her ilk more personal & non-photo-op experience 'days in the life of . . ' over several shifts would be a positive thing.


10 June, 2011 07:27

Anonymous A.J. Wimble said...

I have to agree that the police frequently get more than their fair share of the blame when a tradegy like this happens. In the end the only think that can save someone trapped in a severely abusive relationship is seperation and that is not something the Police can control.

10 June, 2011 09:43

Anonymous Juma said...

:(. My neighbour's abused sister is now her dead sister. He didn't beat her to death, but convinced her she would be better of drinking herbal tea about that knot in her breast.

The police and her family did what they could to get her to leave him, and she did, several times, and always went back to him.

Now he wants her money ( they where not married but he's a very clever bastard).

Domestic violence that turns deadly is never sudden.

Christine's neighbours, if they knew, as it seems, and did nothing, should be ashamed.

More likely, several people had offered help, and where refused.

10 June, 2011 14:00

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets put an armed police officer outside every woman's house,that's the only guarantee that they wont get hurt.
General stereotype-but i'm sick of women getting with thugs or criminal types and then acting surprised when they act like thugs on them.It's great when they are bullying neighbours or intimidating other people but they can't turn it on and off like a tap in the home.

10 June, 2011 23:09

Anonymous Shijuro said...

I love my boys......

13 June, 2011 21:29

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You only ever see the tip of the iceburg in DV and sadly there's just not enough support to deal with the massive and complex issues that DV causes. Often when friends and family offer help it amounts to a space on a sofa and a few hugs - no long term solution, no professional support and no safety. When professionals help it's often just not enough - you're on hold to the helpline for ages, there's no refuge space, the CPS need oodles of evidence to charge and so on.

Leaving is the most dangerous time for a DV victim - he'll hit her if she stays but he'll murder her if she leaves. Attacking the CPS won't change this. I wish refuge would put the money to better use.


14 June, 2011 21:38

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you hinting that Christine Chambers neighbours should of resorted to vigilanty tactics?
POLICE- It's a Verb as well as a Noun you know.
You need to learn a little humanity girl.
Hang on a minute. You're not Tom MacMasters are you?

15 June, 2011 20:08

Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post

18 June, 2011 22:07

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 15 June 20:08

Probably better examine your own syntax before you try to advise cops on grammar.

If you think that the only assistance that the neighbours could offer is "vigilanty" (sic) action then that might suggest your imagination matches your intelligence.


19 June, 2011 16:44

Blogger Buford Nature said...

Don't forget, the police are not here to protect the salt of the Earth. The police exist instead to protect (only) the state. The state, incidentally, is not harmed in any way by occasional citizen murders, assaults, or robberies. Citizens wanting protection from scum must rely upon themselves.

14 July, 2011 14:39


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