The first week in January generally brings a lull in the madness that has been Blandmore for the last few weeks. This year, it seems, there is also a lull in news.
At least, that's the only explanation I can find for the ludicrous headline: "Police called to killer's house" which has been used to head a number of articles today about the fact that police had visited Michael Atherton's house "four times in just two years".
Whoever signed off on the use of the word "just" in this sentence should be brought before the Press Complaints Commission. For starters, the two years in question were 2002-2004. Secondly, four times in two years is not an inordinately high number - at least, not by the standards of families that have the type of domestics resulting in police attendance. There is a couple in Blandmore who have police attendance twice a month, usually because she's refusing to let him pick up the dog for his weekly access visit, or because he's sent her a text saying she's a 'hoare'. He might kill her one day, but so might I.
There is a relevant piece of information in today's news: that Atherton in 2008 threatened to shoot himself. In Blandmore, in 2012, if he did that, his shotguns would be removed. However, if he saw a doctor and showed that he had made the remark in an intoxicated state, and was not suicidal or crazy (which I would guess Atherton was not when sober), the guns might be returned. This is because we do not live in the world of Minority Report, where you can be arrested and imprisoned for crimes you are yet to commit.
By contrast, unlike the media, and no doubt the IPCC, the government, and a slew of people with two slews of opinions, the Bidve family has been conducting itself with the utmost dignity
, following the fatal shooting of their son.
Said Mr Bidve: "The only person we blame is the person who was responsible for taking Anuj away from us in this senseless act of violence on Boxing Day morning."
If more victims and families took this approach, the law in this country would be a lot simpler.
That said, a blogger will be the first to admit that the police always have room for improvement. It might be interesting to compare the 2012 investigation and trial of "Psycho Stapleton", for the Anuj Bidve shooting, with the utterly botched investigation into the 1993 murder of Stephen Lawrence, that has finally reached some sort of resolution. Whatever your view on institutional racism and the lorry-load of bureaucracy the phrase has brought about, the Stephen Lawrence murder has fine-tuned our approach to scene management, exhibit-handling, and identification matters. I don't know what part these played in the Bidve investigation, but I imagine the approach was thoroughly professional.
Whatever the outcome, the headlines today show that in the years I've been writing this blog, two things have not changed:
- Murder is always tragic.
- The culture of blame is alive and well.
It is 2012, and this Twenty-First Century Police Officer is still wringing her hands.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.