The Crown Prosecution Service, Police Culture, Policies and Practices on Domestic Violence. Across the world the police have a dissatisfactory record when it comes to dealing with domestic violence. In recent years the police in England and Wales have done a great deal to improve dealing with this crime, but have they done enough Firstly it is necessary to consider this issue from a historical perspective, secondly, the gap between changes in policy and practice and finally, the likely impact of relatively recent initiatives.
According to Binder & Meeker (1992) ???Prior to this time (before domestic violence was placed on the social and political agenda in the 1970??™s) domestic violence was seen as a private, family matter and, except in cases of extreme violence and injury, the law was not involved in its management.??™ Then Hoyle (1998) recorded that ???police assigned low priority to domestic violence calls and rarely responded to these disputes. Furthermore, even when the violence would have justified such action, police seldom made arrests or used other criminal sanctions to manage the issue. Move over, this research indicated that women who made contact with police were invariably left dissatisfied or further traumatised by the inappropriate or uninformed police responses.??™ In response to these findings campaigns were focused on improving the police response by increasing police powers, with the objective of higher arrest and prosecution rates. These campaigns were based on the assumption that crime could be reduced by arrest and sentencing policies aimed at deterring potential offenders.
These campaigns have been every effective in changing community attitudes, legislation and public policy concerning domestic violence. Domestic violence is now, in theory, recognised as a ???real crime??™ and the fact that it occurs in the home does not detract from its status as a criminal offence. Although police culture has to derive from somewhere, there are official bodies who criticises the police for their action, or lack of action, against domestic violence, NARCO (2006) stated that ???The British Crime survey shows that almost half of women in England and Wales have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking (Walby and Allen, Home Office, 2004).
The Labour Government received an overall score of just 1 in 10 in respect of an integrated approach to addressing violence against women from the Women??™s National Commission in 2004. Although the criticisms from these official bodies are somewhat astonishing, that although 1 in 10 women have experienced domestic violence, we hardly hear about it From a young age we are taught sex education, not to talk to strangers and not to go off with somebody we don??™t know, about what to do if were being bullied and told there is always somebody to talk to if there is something bothering us. We are not taught how to deal with domestic violence, the very thing that takes place in our own homes, by the people we think love us, we are not taught how to deal with situations like this, and if the police don??™t believe you, who will This may be why The Fawcett Society (2005) reported that ???responses from police forces over concerns of low conviction rate for rape and domestic violence, show a mixed picture, whilst there is good work going on in many areas to improve the treatment of violence against women, this is not a priority for the most forces.
??™ So why have these criticisms been made It is most likely because of statements like this, said by Sir Kenneth Newman, former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, who called ???Domestic Violence ???rubbish work??™ and a non-police matter, comparable to dealing with stray dogs.??™ It is quite possible that this has derived from the ???cult of masculinity??™ within police culture. ???Much of this order maintenance work involves disputes that erupt between people in some kind of relationship…
a staple of policing intervening in ???domestic??™ disputes between spouses, lovers, parents and children… officers typically quell the ferocity of the quarrel and try to discover what it was about, the alternative to resolving the issue or stop it re-erupting and causing a disturbance, then to persuade and ultimately force compliance with the parties preferred solution.??™ (Kemp et al, 1992) Street cops are committed to ???crime fighting??™, with less of an orientation towards crime-prevention and peace-keeping. As the disturbance is often behind a closed door and not publicly attacking someone the police seem to view this as a non-police matter, because they simply are not trained to deal with these incidents.
With regards to crime-fighting, it is limited to the public-sphere, thus neglecting the private domain. Domestic violence is a private matter that does go on in a lot of homes, within families and the police see this primarily as a concern for social services. Waddington (1999) termed the police occupational self-image of crime-fighters as a ???Collective Delusion??™, which the police call themselves crime-fighters, ???when domestic violence accounts for nearly a quarter of all recorded violent crimes in England and Wales.
??™ The impact of this ???Collective Delusion??™ is that, Domestic Violence is not taken seriously. Domestic Violence is viewed as a Civil Matter and not a Criminal Matter. The attribution rate is high and a high number of cases drop out of the Criminal Justice System. This occurs for 4 main reasons, First of all, the Police ???No-Crime??™ a case.
Then the police do not refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS does not proceed with a case or reduce the charge, and finally the court dismisses the case (E.G Not Guilty) (Gregory and Lees 1999).But can you understand their frustration In a programme recorded in 1998 called ???Dispatches??™ a particular episode namely ???Men Behaving Badly??™ reported by Deborah Davies looks into the lives of people who suffer from Domestic Violence at the hands of men, who are, in the victims eyes, evil. ???Dispatches??™ reports that one half of the women murdered in Britain are at the hands of their husbands or partners, and that there are around 100 deaths each year from Domestic violence, however, these deaths don??™t just happen, one day they love each other, the next he has murdered her, this happens through years of abuse in most cases, the death of these women is predictable and in most cases inevitable, and worst of all, they are preventable. So why is it that there is little done about violence against women Why is it that out of all reported cases of domestic violence in 1998, that 20% of these offenders are arrested, but only 3% are convicted Worst of all, if the offender is arrested, majority of the time, they are released on bail, under strict conditions which include not making contact with the victim, which they obviously promise not to do. Given a few hours, days later, they abuse starts again and the women drop the charges because they are too scared to press charges.
The abuser is back in their lives starting the circle again. This cycle is repeated again and again for many women. Every 4 out of 5 police forces take the reports no further than an arrest (later to be released on bail) when the abuse ignites again. Police of course could remand the perpetrator in prison until the trail but this again rarely happens and in cases that it has, as a remanded prisoner are still allowed right to phone calls, and these are mainly used to contact the victims with messages of threats. Because these women do not feel safe they choose not to prosecute, and drop charges the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) drop the case and the men are still on the streets, abusing women and nothing is being done about it and the cycle continues. The police have found a ???solution??™, though not to be over-used, which has made some kind of progress into the prosecution of these abusive partners. The police will make the victim give evidence in court, which allows the victim to tell the abuser that she has dropped the charges but it is the Police that are making her give evidence, in a few cases this has proved successful, however, there are cases where the victims simply do not turn up to court out of fear of what the offender will do to them.
But as ever in the criminal justice system, it is not all good news. There is not progress without setbacks, and unfortunately this is all that seems to be happening. The positive is too slow and the negatives over rule.
In half the cases of Domestic Violence that gets to court that should have a severely harsh sentence such has those of ???Attempted Murder??™ and ???GBH??™ end up with a lesser sentence, most commonly ???Common Assault??™. In half the cases that appeared before the CPS in court, the original charge had been reduced if the offender pleaded guilty, and lesser charge means one thing, reduce sentencing. Most of these women had nearly been strangled to death and this is the most popular method of abuse by Domestic Violence Offenders. Although the CPS does not escape responsibility for the lack of conviction of Domestic violence offenders, the police aren??™t without blame. The police receive a Domestic Assistance call every minute of the day. The Criminal Justice Commission (1997) conducted an examination of the police in their handling of Domestic Violence issues, the commission called for service data, which indicated that calls in relation to a domestic violence matter took an average of two hours to complete, twice the time of a typical call, indicating the complexity of domestic violence incidents.
So, to try and explain the poor treatment of Domestic Violence victims, there is the issue of discretion in attitudes and prejudices, acting on their own judgement, often clouded by police culture. Edwards (1989) studied 93 cases of Domestic Violence and found that 83% of the cases were ???No-Crime (d)??™ by the police. This maybe because of arrest avoidance, diversion from false allegations or it is recorded that the victim is wasting police time. This generally is largely a myth sustained by the police culture. There is a downside to ???down-grading and no-criming??™ cases.
This results in inadequate recording processes, which in extent of this, results in the image of domestic violence decreasing from police work and powers and their inadequate ways in dealing with the crime. So what then is the ???dark figure??™ of domestic violence, assuming the unreported cases are very high From the late 1980??™s the policy response to victims of domestic violence has been taken seriously, 1987 saw the release of the Force Order by Labour Force Statistics, and this revised instructions, that Domestic Assaults be treated as serious as public assaults. Introduced and emphasised supporting victims, liaison with local agencies, i.e. schools, doctors, police and the community. It also reminded the Police of the ???Powers of Arrest??™. These are the Home Office Circulars that followed to improve treatment and tackling of Domestic Violence:The Home Office Circular (69/1986) reminded officers of the seriousness of Domestic Violence, but this missive was only advisory.
The Home Office Circular (1990) called for a positive response and multi-agency work on Domestic Violence.The Home Office Circular (60/1990) called for clear policy and strategic documentation, interventionist approach and presumption of arrest along with procedures for recording Domestic Violence the same as other violent crimes and the introduction of dedicated units and officers to deal solely with Domestic Violence. The Home Office Circular (19/2000) linked the quality of Domestic Violence to best value performance indicators. Also at this time the CPS Inspectorate reviewed the dealt with Domestic Violence cases, In 2001 the CPS revised their policy, Policy for Prosecuting Cases of Domestic Violence – Policy Directorate (Feb 2005, this has since been revised again, now currently 2009.
) At present many constabularies have Sexual Offence Squads, Family Protection Units (FPU??™s) and Domestic Violence Units (DVU??™s), also The Crime Reduction Programme (1998) launched a multi-million pound ???Violence against Women Initiative??™. In 1997, over 13,000 applications were made for a Domestic Violence Protection Order… Furthermore, just under half of these applications were made by police (Stewart, 2001, Policing Domestic Violence: An Overview of Emerging Issues) This progress continued into the 2000??™s, when laws were passed to prosecute offenders, including, the Sexual Offences Act (2003). This was the consolidation of good practice to reduce incidents of Domestic violence and improve the treatment of victims of this crime.
Then again the Home Office (2003) let out their Safety and Justice Report, letting out an agenda to tackle Domestic Violence including prevention, protection, justice and support. This was shortly followed by the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (2004) which gave more protection, support and rights for victims and also gave the police and their partners more tools to address Domestic Violence, However, there is no specific Domestic Violence offence definition despite this Act. Then the Domestic Violence National Plan (2005) was released this wanted to offer more help to victims of Domestic Abuse, by reducing the prevalence of Domestic Violence, increasing the rate that Domestic Violence is reported and Domestic Violence offences brought to justice. Ensuring victims of Domestic Violence are adequately protected and supported nationwide. The main objective of the agenda was the plan aimed to reduce the number of Domestic-Violence-Related Homicides. In 2001, Female Domestic Homicide flew on to the agenda because of the high rate of murders, 818 homicides were reported in total throughout England and Wales, 102 were adult female victims of domestic violence (12% of total 818) 204 were adult female victims (30% of total 818), this means that 50% of women were killed by their partner.
The Home Office Index (2000/1) stated that 15% of recorded homicides in England and Wales could be categorised under the ???Domestic??™ heading, and it is women that are most at risk from being killed by a partner. Between 1995-1999 there were 44% of homicide victims were female in England and Wales, 50% of those were killed by men and those men were current or former sexual partners, in comparison to the 7% of all male victims. When assessing the impact of changes in policy and practice, there have been some improvements, in the 1990??™s, DVU??™s led to better treatment of and increased satisfaction for victims (Mooney, 1993).
In 2000??™s, Domestic Violence is made a priority in policing plans, the Crown Prosecution Service were more ???proactive??™ in evidence gathering for the prosecution. Also Specialist Domestic Violence Courts have been established as well as Supporting People Provisions, led to a growth in specialists??™ services for victims, their children and perpetrators. (Radford and Gill, 2006) It is not all positive news though; Cromack and Grace (1995) found that work of DVU??™s brought about no improvements in hull. According to Cromack (1995) this was an issue with police perceptions, who saw DVU??™S as a ???waste of time??™, especially for victims who are not sure whether to proceed, in this case arrest of offender is avoided, the police seemed to lack understanding of reasons why women stay with violent partners, and little awareness of need to monitor repeat victimisation.
In addition Hoyle (1998) found that, in the majority of domestic violence incidents where the police responded, it was not the intention of the victim to have the perpetrator arrested, furthermore, when arrest did occur, the majority of victims did not wish to proceed with the prosecution. Stewart (1998) also found that in addition many domestic violence incidents to which police responded are not notified by the victim but by the victim??™s friends, family or neighbours. Hoyle (1998) investigated reasons why women did not report domestic violence to the police, findings suggested 3 interrelated reasons: firstly, they wanted their relationship to continue, secondly, they feared retaliation and finally, the outcomes of a Criminal Justice Prosecution, were not worth the ???costs??™ to the victim. Hoyle (1998) finding that women do not contact the police because they wish to stay in the relationship, confirms earlier research by Caputo (1988). These reasons such as financial security, child safety, hopes of change and the end to the abuse and lack of affordable accommodation, (Mooney, 1994) however, as times change so do society and reasons for staying within these relationships. According to Cormack (1995) ??? An underlying police culture that leans towards the belief that Domestic Violence is a private family matter and more appropriately a subject matter of civil law??? or that of social services. It is almost like when a Domestic Violence incident occurs, and the police take little or no action, it is assessed on ???Public Threat??™, the offender is not a threat to the public but a threat to this individual (victim) in a private matter, Domestic Violence does not occur in a public domain but in a private domain. When the CPS and the police don??™t prosecute they are not seeing the offender as a criminal, so why would these offenders see themselves as criminals To these victims, it is almost like their abusers are being given a licence to abuse.
Plotnikoff and Woolfson (1998) stated that problems within the Police culture is related to the level of commitment into tackling domestic violence in Head Quarters and divisional commanders, outdated attitudes of Police culture; that domestic violence simply is not a police matter and the lack of motivation and leadership efficiency marginalised domestic violence and the work of Domestic Violence Officers/ Units. More recently the Police have ???discovered??™ the crimes of Forced Marriages, Honour Killings and Genital Mutilation. In 2003, the MP??™s set up a strategic task force to look into these crimes, the research into Honour Crimes, re-opened 100??™s of murder cases spanning a decade, those cases such as Heshu Yones, 16, who was killed by her father after he found out she was dating a man outside of their religion. Nuziat Khan, who was strangled by her husband after asking for a divorce because she could not take his abuse anymore and Shafilea Ahmed, 17, went missing from her home on the 11th September 2003, and her body found in 2004, it is believed that she was killed because she would not comply to a forced marriage arranged by her parents. These are just a few cases, there are 1000??™s more.
However, in 2006 the murder of Banaz Mahmod, 20, a young Kurdish woman, by her father and uncle, still proves there is a long way to go. A number of Police Officers did not take seriously Banaz Mahmod??™s cries for help. The inquest was dealt with most appallingly, ???It emerged during the trial that a female police officer concluded Banaz had made up her story to get her boyfriends attention. But Banaz Brutal life began when she met her boyfriend, Rahmat Sulemani, after fleeing an abusive, two-year arranged marriage, which had been where she was continually beaten and subjected to sexual violence. She had to keep her relationship quiet because Mr Sulemani did not come from the same Mirawdaly group of villages in Iraqi Kurdistan where her family originated. Mahmod tried to kill his daughter first on New Years Eve 2005, when he lured her to her grandmothers house and forced her to drink brandy, but she ran away. Afterwards she collapsed and was taken to hospital.
She refused to leave the ambulance at first, insisting her father was trying to kill her and, once in hospital, recorded the message. When asked to investigate, PC Cornes was more concerned with a window broken as Ms Mahmod escaped from the house, and wanted to charge her with criminal damage. Less than a month after making the video she was strangled. Her body was packed into a suitcase and driven 100 miles from London to Birmingham where she was buried in a back garden with the ligature – a shoelace – still around her neck.??™ (Extract taken from The Independent, Tuesday 12th June 2007) Detective Inspector Caroline Goode (2007) stated that ???clearly there is no honour in killing.
..I think it is the ultimate betrayal for a parent to kill a child.??™ The policing of Rape and Sexual Violence and Domestic Violence issues are very similar, the influence of Police culture; victim blaming, the tendency to treat these crimes as a private matter. Both these crimes have a very high attrition rate. Harris and Grace (1999); HMCPSI and HMIC (2002) found that more and more men are being reported to the Police for rape and domestic violence, but the proportion being convicted has been falling steadily for years.
Rape alone has the lowest conviction rate for all serious crimes, in 2005 it was just 5.6%, to follow this Myhill and Allen (2002) observed that the figure is likely to be much higher, because only 2 out of 10 women report their victimisation to the Police. HMCPSI (2007) study of the investigation and prosecution of rape offences showed that the Police and prosecutors wrongly record many cases as ???no-crime??™, others are dropped prematurely and remain under investigation this is likely because of sexist attitudes and insensitive treatment is again present here as it is in Domestic Violence. Some of these influential factors regarding the attrition rate are because the highest proportion of rape cases and domestic violence cases are lost at the earliest stages, between one half and two thirds drop out at the investigative level (Kelly et al, 2005).
Decisions about continuing a case depends on Police statements and assessments of the complainant??™s credibility. The CPS do not interview witnesses so police decision making is central, Police culture influences these decisions because of discretion, attitudes, prejudices and stereotyping all linking to victim blaming. The Police draw a distinction between deserving, ideal victims and undeserving victims, those deemed deserving are more likely to get a conviction. Overall, the Attrition Rate is influenced by the victims age, the relationship between the victim and the accused, the degree of violence used, a conviction is most likely for younger, single women attacked by a stranger who physically injured victim during the attack (Harris and Grace, 1999) The General Pattern of Attrition in 2005, 869 Domestic Violence incidents were recorded, 222 of these resulted in an arrest (that is 26% of the original 869 reported), 60 of these were charged (that is 27% of the 222 arrested and 7% of the 869 incidents reported), 31 of those charged were convicted ( that is 52% of the 60 charged, 14% of the 222 arrested and 4% of the 869 incidents reported), however only 4 of those convicted received a custodial conviction ( that is 13% of the 31 convicted and 0.5% of the 869 incidents reported). Although there has recently been much media attention of the cases of Domestic Violence hitting headlines throughout 2009 and 2010, this has therefore put pressure on both the Police and the CPS to act accordingly because of public up roar. The recently revised CPS Policy: Policy for Prosecuting Cases of Domestic Violence – Policy Directorate (2009) has much more ???seriousness??™ thrust upon it to deal, support, understand, prosecute and policing in relation to Domestic Violence.
The policy states that ???We regard domestic violence as particularly serious. Its domestic nature is an aggravating, rather than a mitigating factor because of the abuse of trust that is involved. Victims know and often live with or have lived with their abuser. Moreover, there is often a continuing threat to the victim??™s safety and, in the worst cases; the victim??™s life and the lives of others (including children and young people) may be at risk. Stopping domestic violence and bringing perpetrators toJustice is therefore a priority for the CPS.??™ But as the old saying goes, ???Action speaks louder than words.??™ In conclusion, I believe a lot has been done to ???take Domestic Violence seriously??™ and address the appalling attrition rate and policing priorities shift at the level of disclosure, but in practice further work is needed, not just from the police but also from the CPS.
Domestic Violence needs to be taken ???practically??™ serious; more forces should be put in effect to stop the violence against women, the statistic show that Domestic Violence kills more women aged 19 ??“ 44 yrs than cancer, war or car accidents,89% sustained Domestic Violence victims are women. The British Crime Survey 2001 of female victims: 63% of victims ending relationship ended the Domestic Violence but 18% of the Domestic Violence was replaced by harassment e.g. stalking. To sum this up, ???Little progress has been made on introducing a strategic and integrated approach to ENDING violence against women.
??? (Fawcett Society, 2007) Although polices have been improved to tackle Domestic Violence and have proved effective such as the CPS revised policy recognising the different types of offence within Domestic Violence ???There is no specific statutory offence of domestic violence. ???Domestic violence??? is a general term that describes a range of controlling and coercive behaviours, which are used by one person to maintain control over another with whom they have, or have had, an intimate or family relationship…Domestic violence occurs throughout society, amongst people of all ethnicities, sexualities, ages, disabilities, immigration statuses, religions or beliefs, and socio-economic backgrounds. We recognise that both men and women can be victims.
Although the majority of victims are women, and taking action against domestic violence is included as part of the CPS Violence against Women Strategy, we will apply our domestic violence policy without discrimination in all cases. The Government definition of domestic violence against both men and women (agreed in 2004) is ???any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse [psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional] between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.??? The definition is supported by an explanatory text that makes it clear that domestic violence includes female genital mutilation, forced marriage and so called ???honour crimes???. The New Powers of Arrest (s24 PACE): arrest for Common Assault which was put in force Jan 2006, and the Breach of any non-molestation order which was put in force July 2007, Restraining Orders and Protection from Harassment Act 1997 show an improvement to practices and will amount to more arrest before more physical abuse is used however much more is needed to stop and end Domestic Violence.
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