Don't Blame Just the Police for Letting Down Stalking Victims

25/04/2016 12:26

The publicity around Lily Allen's stalking case has, it appears, encouraged other victims to come forward and report similar cases to police and that is a good thing.

Lily Allen went through an awful experience that would have psychologically crippled many of us - culminating by the stalker breaking into her house as she slept.

She had a perfect right to publicise her experience if for no other reason then it happened - not to mention that it is an important issue for our society involving as it does thousands of victims.

Lily Allen also has a perfect right to express her dissatisfaction with the way police handled her case - especially at the beginning when they were not tying together various small incidents and looking at the accumulative effect of them together.

The police - like any other part of the criminal justice system work under pressure, dealing with hundreds of thousands of a crimes a year and must therefore operate processes and systems - and processes and systems can be cruel and hard on people at their most vulnerable.

The way the police respond and treat victims is of vital importance because they are the first, and often, only people victims can go to for help - but that does not mean the police should be the only one's to take the blame for what I think are the failings of our wider society.

If the wider public and politicians and criminal justice system all got together and said enough is enough - stalking and similar crimes - must now be the priority and you the police can set aside everything else and deal with these types of crime - I bet the police would.

The fact is this is not going to happen because there are hundreds of nameless bureaucrats setting goals for the police to measure their performances and the political will is not their to change things. Not to mention there are many other serious crimes police need to deal with.

When I was in the police senior officers were under enormous pressure to reduce certain crimes - things like burglary and robbery - to do more stops and searches (madness) - and numerous other lesser measures.

As I recall - there were not many main stream measures for reducing crimes like domestic violence or stalking - which disproportionately effect women. I doubt this has changed much judging by the outcomes we read about.

The police are guilty of many failings - they have a tough job to do after all. They are often the first and last safety net for all the ills of society because we - collectively - don't care enough to make other arrangements.

The police need to improve all the time and I think they do try to - but there will always be pressure to do more.

Victims like Lily Allen and the thousands of ordinary victims deserve help and support but we are deceiving ourselves if we simply shine the light on the police - they are only around 100,000 of police officers in a Country of 60 million people.

They can only do so much and they are from - and reflect the attitudes of - wider society and they do our collective bidding.

The police should learn from each experience but will continue to make mistakes because they deal with difficult things and are merely human - but where are our political leaders on these issues - and what do the rest of us think or care about?

Women's shelters are being closed up and down the country and we don't seem to care much - where are the major demonstrations and protests about this and our care of victims of stalking?

I fear there are not so many votes in making these sorts of crimes a real priority - because they would be if it were otherwise.

Legislation is available to deal with stalking - and often other crimes will be committed by a stalkers but that does not mean that police cease to be under pressure to deal with so many other things.

I suspect that politicians are quite happy to use the police for their political purposes - boasting when crime is down for instance - but happy to see them carrying the can when victims are let down because the rest of us really don't care enough. If we all really cared about what happens to victims like Lily Allen then things would change.

Blaming the police for their failings is our democratic right and sometimes they deserve it - other times they don't.