Monday, February 18, 2008

Straws and Camels

Usual weekend custody suite nonsense for me, where everything blurs into one constant flow of the same questions again and again, swearing at NSPIS, drink drives at 7am (the adverts are true about the morning after the night before) and a general sense of not really having as much idea as I should about whats going on.

Its a strange existence in custody, no natural light for however many hours I'm there, emerging blinking like a surprised badger in daylight when I'm finally allowed home.

Anyway nobody died or was illegally dealt with, which is the short summary of my custody life- so have a tale from when I was allowed out the other week.

Domestic incidents are the bread and butter of police work. I honestly could not tell you how many I've been to.

In years gone by, domestic incidents between partners were largely ignored by police- it was generally accepted by us - and the courts, CPS and everyone else- that matters between husband and wife were to be kept private.

Today, things are quite different, and rightly so. If there is a domestic incident, a whole roll call of procedures are implemented. This is but one of a hundred standard operating procedures for different types of calls, most of which are designed either for appeasement for a particular "end user" group, or to give the "specialists" who should end up taking it on the minimum amount possible to do. Some of these SOPs are completely useless and make no concession to the realities of response policing.

However, the domestic violence policy is one I actually agree with wholeheartedly and make sure the PC's do their jobs properly, and aren't tempted to revert to the "good old days" of a suggestion that they keep the noise down next time.

I went to a middle aged lady the other day. It took her 16 years to call us.

As I sat round the coffee table with her 4 children at 3am, she recounted how within a year of their being married, the abuse started. Nothing ever major, the occasional backhand, a constant stream of denigrating abuse. She left him once, twice, but always came back after the extended family got involved, put pressure on her to go back and keep things proper and not bring shame. They'd have words with him too, and he'd promise he'd change.

Of course, he never did. But having given up work to bring up the children, she was now dependent on him for income.

In terms of what happened for them to call us, again it was nothing "major"- no broken jaws or stab wounds, both of which I've seen before- it was a slap, hairpulling, typical bully stuff. But it was the fear factor which finally prompted her to call. A day of silent treatment over husbands's new girlfriend led to him going for her in the evening.

It might have been much worse but for the intervention of their eldest son who burst into the room when it was still at the hairpulling stage. He was still a boy really but finding himself as he grows up his first steps as a man are standing up to his own dad, stopping him attacking his own mum.

What really made me mad was his attitude when I called in later to custody. Arrogant, confident. Couldn't resist a couple of derogatory comments about how ungrateful she was and how much he gave her.

I didn't say anything to him. Custody suites are covered with audio recording cameras, after all.