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 ...view middle of the document...
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...