PCC Katy Bourne's response to Chief Constable Thompson's comments on domestic abuse

29/10/2020

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne addresses the comments made today in The Times by Chief Constable David Thompson of West Midlands Police regarding domestic abuse. She says:

“It has taken too many years for Domestic Abuse to be recognised as a serious crime so it is extremely disappointing to hear comments from a senior police officer that lack insight into the true nature and devastating impact this crime has upon its victims.

“I fear that today’s remarks will only serve to disempower victims, erode their confidence in reporting to the police and empower perpetrators.

“We know that two women a week are killed through incidents of domestic abuse and, in Sussex alone, we currently have eight ongoing domestic homicide reviews.

“Learning from previous homicide cases, we know that not all are categorised as ‘high risk’ from the start.

“This fact alone should be a stark reminder of just how quickly and terribly these crimes can escalate.

“To disregard domestic abuse in this way means that we are disregarding 22% of all reported crime.

“As a PCC, elected by the public to be the voice of the victim, it is important that I speak out.

“Tackling domestic abuse remains a key priority for the public which is why PCCs nationally reflect this priority within their local police and crime plans.

“Police Chiefs cannot cherry pick which crimes they respond to.

“If a vulnerable person reaches out for help, the police should be there to respond and protect them in any way they can from domestic abuse.

“Chief Constable Thompson’s comments give the impression that there has to be a visual interpretation of violence for the police to take victims seriously. 

"Victims should not need a physical manifestation like broken bones or black eyes to prove the many years of coercive control they may have suffered.

“These comments are poorly timed, given the circumstances we all find ourselves in, and knowing that incidents of domestic abuse increased significantly during lockdown.

“I want to offer reassurance that I do not align with the statement made today.

“If a victim of domestic abuse comes forward to Sussex Police, they will always be taken seriously and receive the help and support they need. Tackling and responding to domestic abuse will remain a priority for police within our local Police and Crime Plan.”

Jo Gough, CEO of local domestic abuse charity, Rise UK, welcomes PCC Bourne's statement saying: “It is good to see our local Police and Crime Commissioner making a stand and reminding local forces that a positive response is key. Domestic abuse is in every neighbourhood and yet only 1 in 5 victims of domestic abuse will report it to the police. A believing and helpful response is needed to hold perpetrators to account and to save more lives.”

​For more information on Rise UK please visit their website here: www.riseuk.org.uk