Another shocking case of police failure on domestic violence – Refuge responds

South Wales Police has today been criticised for failing to protect a victim of domestic violence whose partner, a registered sex offender, attacked her with a claw hammer after she had gone to the police for help.

 

You can watch the woman tell her story in her own words here: Police fail woman attacked with hammer by convicted rapist

 

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of RefugeSandra Horley CBE, chief executive of national domestic violence charity Refuge, says:

“Another shocking case of domestic violence – another shocking finding of police failure. This woman barely escaped with her life – she is truly lucky to be alive after being so badly let down by South Wales Police.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has found a litany of failings in this case – failings which put the woman and her children in grave danger. Her attacker had already been convicted for a string of serious violent and sexual offences. He was on the sex offenders’ register.  The police knew he had a long history of violence – he was clearly an extremely dangerous man who posed a very real threat to a woman and two young children.  Yet they failed to make any concerted effort to apprehend him after the woman suffered the first assault at his hands.  They failed to respond to this vulnerable woman with any urgency.  It appears that those failures in basic policing duties gave him liberty to carry out an attack so severe that a woman almost lost her life and two children almost lost their mother.

Just a few months ago, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC)’s national investigation into the police response to domestic violence revealed the huge extent to which women and children are being failed by forces across the country. This is not the first time the police have been criticised by the IPCC. Recent investigations into the murders of Sabina Akhtar, Katie Boardman, Clare Wood, Maria Stubbings, Jeanette Goodwin, Christine Chambers, Arsema Dawit, Banaz Mahmood have found serious failings. Nor is it the first time that South Wales Police has been criticised by the IPCC for its response to a victim of domestic violence.  In 2010, the IPCC found that South Wales police failed to respond appropriately to emergency calls for help from Joanna Michael and her young children, before she was killed by her ex-partner. It is deeply disturbing that police forces up and down the country do not seem to be learning lessons from past mistakes.

How many more reports do we need?  How many more findings of failure?  How many more women must be beaten, maimed, terrorised and killed before the police wake up to the severity of this crime?

The truth is that the police are not the only agency to fail victims of domestic violence.  Refuge supports 3,000 women and children on any given day – many of whom have been completely let down by a wide range of agencies, from social services, health and housing, to the courts and Crown Prosecution Service. That’s why we are calling on the Government to open a public inquiry into the response of all state agencies to victims of domestic violence. We need to end this culture of inaction. We need to ensure that women and children are given the protection they deserve. Please add your voice to our campaign by signing the petition.”