Wednesday, April 13, 2011

News Brief: The DPP gets serious about domestic violence, and social workers pressurised to ignore child abuse

The BBC reports today that every domestic abuse death is to be automatically reviewed by all involved agencies, in an effort to make sure that "lessons about violence in the home are learned". The move follows a speech 'Domestic Violence: the facts, the issues, the future' given by the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC at the Crown Prosecution Service headquarters yesterday, which he began with the words:
"Domestic violence is serious and pernicious. It ruins lives, breaks up families and has a lasting impact. It is criminal. And it has been with us for a very long time. Yet it is only in the last ten years that it has been taken seriously as a criminal justice issue. Before that the vast majority of cases were brushed under the carpet with the refrain "it's just a domestic"."

He then went on to set out some statistics about domestic violence which he described as "shocking", including that nearly 1 million women experience at least one incident of domestic abuse each year, that at least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence and that two women are killed each week by their partner or ex-partner. The rest of the speech sets out progress that has been made (domestic violence now accounts for 14 per cent of violent crime whereas in 1997 it accounted for 23 per cent), the problems that are still faced, and what needs to be done to deal with them.

Meanwhile, Community Care reports the disturbing results of a survey it has carried out amongst 170 front-line social workers, which revealed that they are effectively being pressurised to ignore child abuse as a result of budget cuts. The survey "found that 58% believed pressure had been placed on them to reclassify child protection cases as less serious child-in-need cases" and that "more than four-fifths of respondents felt child protection thresholds had increased in their area over the past year". According to this page (which I assume is referring to the same survey) 88% say budget cuts at their council are putting vulnerable children at risk. The same page quotes social workers, for example:
"We were told by a senior manager that our area has too many child protection cases and that it was above national average, so all cases had to be examined and downgraded."

And:
"Several cases were reclassified to clear caseloads for each team to meet regulatory targets."

How long before the next Victoria Climbie or Baby P, and when it happens will the Government take the blame because of the cuts it imposed?

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UPDATE: The government has apparently responded to the Community Care survey by urging social workers to blow the whistle on local authorities that prevent professionals from protecting children. Hmm...

6 comments:

  1. Interesting that government still sees local authorities as having duties in child protection as Mr Pickles has offered these up for consultation as a 'burden'.

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  2. Nick Langford14 April 2011 08:19

    Keir Starmer’s speech is absolute guff. His “facts” are largely propaganda from Women’s Aid, CAADA and the NSPCC; he is simply demonstrating his capitulation to the domestic violence industry. It is tragic that despite the huge advances made by feminism it is still trapped in the paradigm of male domestic violence (DV approved as culturally acceptable by the patriarchal hegemony) and that this lunacy is now dictating public policy. I don’t wish to minimise the effect of DV on its victims for a moment, but it is vital to realise – as Starmer does not – that men and boys can be victims too. The “two women a week” figure has become a marker by which we can identify an article which is more about promoting a political viewpoint than about the “facts”. The true figure is about 1.4 per week; Starmer also neglects to tell us that about 0.7 men each week are killed by a current or former partner, or that violence against men generally is higher than for women. Why do we pretend that women are not capable of violence? Violence by women under the age of 30 is actually higher than it is for men; women are no less physically aggressive than men, they are merely, on average, weaker. The “violence against women and girls” campaign hides the fact that – according to the NSPCC’s own figures – violence against children is more likely to be perpetrated by mothers than by fathers. Whom is Starmer really protecting?

    The appallingly gendered approach taken by Keir Starmer leads to the sort of atrocities which prompted Cherie Blair to laud Kiranjit Ahluwalia as a ‘true role model for the next generation’ at the 2001 Asian Women Awards ceremony when she had poured petrol onto the lap of her allegedly violent husband while he slept and set fire to him. Despite the claims of feminists, I don’t think that a man who murdered his wife in such a brutal way would ever be hailed as a role model. When it comes to DV society has completely lost its reason.

    Starmer’s conviction rate may be up, but can we be confident any of these alleged perpetrators will receive a fair trial, once they have been accused of a gender crime?

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  3. Hi Nick,

    I don't necessarily agree with you that Starmer is taking a 'gendered approach', but I did also notice that none of the statistics he quoted related to DV against men. For example, the statistic that the BBC mentioned in its report, that 21 men died from domestic abuse in England and Wales last year. We certainly mustn't fall into the trap of thinking that only women are victims of DV, as I've said here many times before.

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  4. Nick Langford14 April 2011 17:38

    You certainly have, John.

    I also wonder whether the DPP should be making what is a very political speech, whether one agrees with it or not.

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  5. Both CAFCASS and social services claimed last year that DV and child abuse were in the past because the victim had left to a place of safety, so the perpetrator was awarded full custody and her home as the victim was considered weak. If I had a gun pointed at me and my children I would be deeply traumatised too and in no state to be in court a week later. Where is the training in these cases?

    DV is a criminal matter but somehow police think family courts deal with it and fail to prosecute.

    We know from the past that the lives of more men were saved since DV was made a crime, because women could escape and not be driven to kill their abusers.

    ReplyDelete

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