I wonder when we might get around to working out that many issues like domestic violence have their roots in our ability to pour scorn and moral outrage like oil on troubled waters. Oil is about the worst thing to pour on water as any number of disasters should tell us. I really dislike bullying violence, yet still see many situations that are full of it. We live in peace, as far as we do, under the American military umbrella, and the West generally exists through military might. The sad state of affairs is that our violence or potential for it is a regulating mechanism. More sadly, I cannot see a means to rid us of this ‘social control’ easily, whether in Macht Politik or our more day-to-day.
It strikes me that we have little ability to talk sensibly about many of the questions that could lead to a genuinely peaceful society. There was a murder over Face Book comments round the corner a couple of weeks back. I have no real understanding why we went into a war with Iraq or why we are in Afghanistan. My grandson didn’t give evidence in a bad bullying case because we can’t trust the ‘police’ (this should really read ‘legal system’) to give the needed protection. We have seen Mr. Askew killed as a result of a form of community violence the police could not stop. He had a mental age of eight and suffered many years. The Cochranes were burned to death some days after police did nothing over an incident in which petrol was poured on their front door and a long period of terror. Katie Summers was one of many killed by a partner or ex-partner. The grim criminal druggies who made life hell for me and my partner carried on their activities over at least 20 years. In the small square in which my mate and his family lived until they moved, they had a ‘crack house’ next door, murderers who killed someone with a brush stale forced into his lung from the nether regions and bomber-makers a few doors away. Many decent people who cannot afford to leave have been left behind.
Our ex-neighbours practised domestic violence on themselves and children. In one statement, she claimed he played a ‘full part in a loving home’. Barely literate, she was still able to learn what social workers and others who routinely fail us, needed her to say. On the street, drunk and drugged, she was shouting her had been ‘twatting her to fuck for 25 years’ and inciting him to hit her in the face ‘where it would show’. He once claimed to a passer-by that she had hit him and he was going back into the house to ‘sort his wife out, as any man would’. The authorities tried a bit, but they were useless. A really big part of the problem is that those in authority will only admit how useless they are in the anonymity of the blogosphere. We were even told that police and social workers could find no trace of the long history of domestic violence and intimidation both these vile criminals were involved in, a lie they still don’t admit to even after a mostly successful prosecution over events we were not involved in.
Problems in international violence and community and domestic violence don’t lack independent analysis. There is a vast literature. The problem is that this is never honed into education that would be effective at ground level and change our practices. Our own attitudes and lack of this education are part of the problem. Very big issues are involved.
The scum who used to live next door had very big problems. Broadly, I regard them as very dangerous children. Some of the worst kids round here already resemble them and it can be difficult to tell (quickly) which kids are just being naughty through normal growing pains and those already dangerous. What we need to address is the system of local violence so we can get into its origins and prevention, and bring about shorter-term measures to bring about zero tolerance of existing behaviour. Bleats about human rights need to be seen in the light of human rights already being abused. Bleats from authorities that cannot cope need to be seen in the light of their public claims to be doing a good job.
The truth at the moment is that we are suppressing nearly all the evidence needed to actually identify the nature of the problems. People in authority turn out to be as brutal as the perpetrators in protecting their own interests, cosy salaries and failures. There are multiple places to start, but the keys lie in combining passion for justice and independence through openness. Victims are stymied at every turn by both lurking community violence (very real threats of harassment and intimidation) and incompetent authorities, including hapless and self-serving politicians. The system is also riddled with false complaints and inadequate investigation based on stereotyping by street-level bureaucrats. There is no point in having any more officers on our streets skilled only in incompetence and self-assured ignorance, backed only by a system that has already proved itself capable of treating victims worse than perpetrators and which will continue to do so.
The first point of investigation should be amongst victims and this needs to be before they die as so many have before. When I say ‘amongst victims’ I do not propose a focus on them alone. Victims are socially constructed rather than people with impediments, though far too high a proportion turn out to be disabled in a more general use of the term (20% in an HMIC report). My partner and I both feel our treatment by the relevant authorities was and remains scandalous. These authorities, our MP, councillors, Bolton Town Hall services, Greater Manchester Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and Bolton Council all played a greater role in victimising us than the assaults, death threats, noise, constant domestic violence and harassment from our former neighbours. Down-the-line complaints services such as the Local Government Ombudsman and IPCC were even worse. We feel this despite some genuinely committed action by street-level officials. Even Bolton Victims’ Support behaved abominably at one point. No one has been accountable, though one poor police constable (a decent enough lad) was apparently subject to minor discipline because he cocked-up in failing to pursue an Harassment Act prosecution. Given that his supervisors at the time were still lying to us that this act was only intended for use to protect harassed celebrities, it is hard to believe the fault was his.
The key act in making us victims was made when Bolton Council decided to give the tenancy next door to a quite dreadful woman. We still do not know how this came about. No valid risk assessment can have taken place and we were not consulted at all. We were becoming vulnerable for other reasons at the time, though our response to this was constructive. Our lives were shattered by this Council decision and yet eight years on have been given no valid explanation of it, and indeed conflicting stories that insult our intelligence. The first was that the tenancy was granted because the woman had previously been a Council tenant for five years with no problems and that it was not known that her partner was to live with her and her children. This was later contradicted when an antisocial support worker told us the woman had never been a Bolton Council tenant. I don’t believe anyone was lying in the production of these stories. The key issue was that no one was prepared to tell us the truth, and to establish this to help prevent future mistakes of the same kind and establish an action plan to prevent us being victimised.