Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.




Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

DOMESTIC ABUSE AND THE GIRL WHO CRIED WOLF

Professor Richard Dawkins, archbishop of atheism, set the cat well and truly among the pigeons last week with his opinion that there are varying levels of rape and that considering some such offending as lower levels of sexual assault might paradoxically lead to an increased conviction rate. A similar mode of thinking has been applied to the subject of “domestic abuse/violence” by Greater Manchester Police's Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan. An interesting article on just this subject has been published in “Police Oracle”. I have copied it below in full. Personally I have some sympathy with the logic of the good professor and the Assistant Chief Constable. I recall Aesop and his fable, “The boy who cried wolf” and recognise some similarities. But reader, judge for yourself and make your own decision.

A police and crime commissioner (PCC) has launched an attack on a chief officer for his distinction between cases of domestic violence and low-level domestic abuse.
Vera Baird accused Greater Manchester Police's Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan of "trivialising" domestic abuse and suggested there was no difference between aggressive shouting and extreme acts of violence.
ACC Shewan, the national policing lead on restorative justice, had said that in some rare cases it might be appropriate to deal with domestic abuse out of court via community resolutions.
He used the hypothetical example of a jilted boyfriend who had never been violent before but who, upset and angry, snaps off his ex-girlfriend's car wing mirror after being dumped.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said: "That is domestic abuse."
But he added that in a case like this the victim might merely want her ex-partner to pay for the damage, not for the case to end up in court.
ACC Shewan stressed that only a small number of cases were being dealt with in this way. In a statement, Ms Baird, the PCC for Northumbria, condemned his remarks.
She said: "Those who suffer from domestic abuse are not always victims of violence every time. 
"Sometimes they are coerced and oppressed by relatively minor conduct. Officers in Northumbria understand that they can be in the context of continuing abuse and do not trivialise it as this officer (ACC Shewan) seems to do.
"Victims need to have confidence in the system and know that they have the full weight of the law behind them." 
Ms Baird was not available to comment further as this article went live.

'Indistinguishable'

Asked to clarify whether Ms Baird differentiated between domestic violence and domestic abuse, her press spokeswoman Ruth Durham said: "Abuse is violence. They are both unsuitable for community resolutions and restorative justice."
Asked whether Ms Baird believed that shouting at someone was as bad as punching a person in the face, she added: "Her position is that domestic abuse is the same as domestic violence."
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has said that police are too often dealing with cases of domestic violence by way of community resolutions, which could amount to little more than a "slap on the wrist".
However, by refusing to acknowledge any difference in degree between cases, Ms Baird, a former Labour MP, has gone further than others in her party.
PoliceOracle.com recently highlighted the case of a 16-year-old boy given a caution for criminal damage and domestic violence after dropping a jar of pickles in his home.
Chris Bath from the National Appropriate Adult Network said this demonstrated how trivial incidents could sometimes be termed as violence by police when in fact this was not an accurate description of the incident.
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, has defended ACC Shewan's stance, saying the police had "got it about right by using their discretion".
She told PoliceOracle.com: "If it is a minor altercation, using some kind of community resolution is best for everybody." 
Ms Crook said there was a need to distinguish between domestic violence and domestic abuse.
The latter could be relatively minor, she said, for example Facebook harassment.

Victims' voices

Ms Baird's fellow PCCs have also stopped short of conflating domestic violence and domestic abuse. 
Tony Lloyd, a Labour politician and the PCC for Greater Manchester, has called for domestic violence to be made a specific offence to acknowledge its seriousness and make it distinct from other offences.  
Several PCCs are researching how police treat victims of domestic violence and domestic abuse in an effort to provide better support for them.
Suffolk's PCC Tim Passmore is working with academics from University Campus Suffolk to understand victims' experiences through the criminal justice process.
The Labour Party has pledged to introduce a Violence Against Women and Girls Bill "to place

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