Monday, August 21, 2006

Ouch

A murder took place in my local area recently. The man charged with the murder had been arrested on a weekend day for a matter of domestic violence. He was then interviewed, he made full admissions, and then it was decided that it was appropriate to caution him for the assault and release him. The man then went home and killed his wife.

The reality is that whoever the unfortunate soul was within the Police who authorised this man to be cautioned cannot be criticised. I would imagine that if the man had been legally represented the solicitor would have pushed for a caution, and the Police would have probably been satisfied to give a caution provided that there had been no previous incidents of domestic violence and the man appeared to show some remorse.

14 comments:

beethoven writes said...

ouch indeed!

Gavin Whenman said...

There's no way (unless they knew the man was seriously unhinged) the officers could have seen that coming.

Helen Sparkles said...

It is a common story in DV cases; victims eventually leave (on average) after an average of 33 incidents, the final not necessarily being the most serious. It is impossible to predict when someone will seriously injure their partner, it is just vital that the victims are fully informed about their options; refuges and agencies which offer support, and the police are often the front line agency to supply that information.

Anonymous said...

I've been convinced (or brainwashed - depends on how you see it) by recent training for magistrates. I view now domestic violence in a new light and would usually seek a full PSR fr such matters. How the police can decide on a caution on limited information is beyond me. No criticism of the individual officer, though.

Caracus said...

Just to add my two cents... this really is one of the situations police dread. The above post does not give much in the way of details re the incident the man was cautioned for. Cautions are regularly used in domestic situations... why? Well to start with a large proportion of domestic assaults tend to be at the lower end of the scale... I’m sure Gavin has had to represent many clients who were accused of causing the most trivial of injuries (if any at all?) in domestic violence (DV) cases. The new SOCPA arrest rules have made DV arrests increasingly common I feel -> police positive action policy for domestic violence (read virtual positive arrest policy)+ power of arrest for common assault (if you can justify it- which you normally can in a DV situation - venerable person etc) means if there is an allegation of assault someone normally comes into custody. In these case the victim regularly does not wish to substantiate and so if there is an admission police will caution.

Secondly many DV offenders are otherwise quite law abiding citizens many of whom haven’t previously come to police notice therefore caution is always going to be considered especially if the injury is minor and the victim is unlikely to wish pursue the matter after a few days (very common scenario).

I think the anonymous poster above is being unfair on the police and should perhaps consider the realities of what he/she is saying. Judges may have the option of sending someone away so they can have a pre sentence reports done by some one else. Police officers working on a busy Community Safety Unit don’t have this sort of assistance; they have to make decisions based on the (limited) information available to them when the job comes in. There simply is not the time, the provision within the law or the resources to prepare a 'pre caution report' similar to a PSR before a disposal decision is made. What are the police going to do bail each and every DV offender pending a report?

The main problem with jobs like this is although almost all people who kill there partners have previously subjected that person to domestic violence not all people who commit domestic violence go on to kill there partners! Therefore it is very hard to prevent these sought of case because it is not always obvious that there is a pattern of escalation that may lead to a death/ serious assault in DV cases. This problem is of course compounded by the fact that many DV victims don’t support the prosecution of offenders and willingly take them back shortly after the offenders arrest.

Gavin is right when he says it is hard to criticise the cautioning decision. Whose to say that if police had charged this man, kept him in custody and sent him to court that he would not have been bailed from court (to another address presumably). After which he could convince the victim that he really did love them and that it was all a bad mistake and then go onto to kill them any way. Lets face it the courts don’t have an exemplary record when it comes to people on bail not going out and killing people etc. The alternative? Bang them all up this is hardly practical given the amount of space available in jails and the small matter of proportionality.

PeterG said...

Well, obviously SOMEONE made a mistake, at the very least making a bad judgment of character. However, with very little information given by the blogger, it's hard to say where mistakes happened.

Gavin said...

There is little further information I can provide at this stage.

As other people have pointed out although there is always a potential for these kind of things to happen, people cautioned for offences of domestic violence rarely go home the next day and kill their spouse. there are of course cases where domestic violence leads to a death.

The decision to caution this man cannot be criticised. Human beings are unpredictable.

Elle said...

Something people are forgetting here is the wife's role. Did she intend to press charges? More often than not they don't. As one who works in family law I can't begin to tell you how many times women come to me, say they don't want to press charges but still want an injunction. It's always, "I don't want to put him in jail, I just want him to leave me alone." Unfortunately they miss the point completely. This isn't to say the wife in this situation has any blame for her own murder. Just pointing out there's more to it than just what the police decide to do.

The Enforcer said...

Working with DV perpetrators is, in my opinion, one of the most soul-destroying parts of being a probation officer because of the near-total denial that many of them exhibit. As Elle says, there is more to the situation than what the police decide to do, because they're often driven by what the victim wants, which is a terrible position for anyone to be put in. Not only does it force the victim to make a choice about what happens to a person with whom they have an emotional history (at the very least, and more often still have feelings for, or children involved and so on), but it personalises that decision, so that when the perpetrator is prosecuted, it's only a short step for them to develop a persecution complex that their (ex-)partner is to blame for their predicament. This will only stop when it becomes very clear that decisions to prosecute will take place regardless of the victim's wishes and based on the evidence that the police have. This does happen in some parts of the country, but not everywhere.

That said, I have every sympathy for the officer involved - a terrible thing to happen, but not one that could really have been predicted.

Helen Sparkles said...

Not about this post but a Daily Mail story - sorry. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/showbiz/showbiznews.html?in_article_id=401840&in_page_id=1773 Can Mr Loophole really get Caprice off? I looked up the antibiotics she is taking and alcohol wasn't contraindicated but he managed it with Alex Ferguson's funny tummy! You probably have other things to write about but I would be interested to know what you think.

Helen Sparkles said...

Hi,
I have just linked and hope that's ok with you, I am unsure of blog-etiquette.
Bfn

phatboy said...

I was rather under the impression that cautions were no longer used in DV cases. That's certainly what I've been told by officers and I've not come across a caution in a DV case for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Do you ever feel like beating up a police officer?

habika said...

Good to know about the thought

Habika

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