The police officers who called a woman a “f****** slag” on her voicemail show exactly why victims fear coming forward to report domestic violence

This kind of institutional misogyny in the force doesn't look like it'll be ending soon

Share

Domestic violence is frighteningly common, with recent figures suggesting a verbal or physical attack every 37 seconds. The majority of sustained, repeated domestic violence happens to women. The true extent of the problem is still not known, as domestic violence thrives on secrecy, and the majority of cases go unreported to police. In fact, more than half of women say they would not report an experience of domestic violence to the police.

At least part of this reason is likely to be down to what the abuser is doing: abusers isolate their victims from support, which makes the abuser even more central to the victim’s life, and even harder for victims to escape. However, part of the blame must rest on the shoulders of the police.

A recording of a conversation from the phone of a woman who reported domestic violence has revealed exactly the level of insensitivity and misogyny that many women fear when dealing with the police. Officers were recorded referring to the woman as a “f****** bitch” and a “f****** slag”, before quipping that since she wasn’t in they might as well “go back, f****** draft the statement ourselves and then just get the bitch to sign it.” What these officers said was horrific on so many levels. Their attitude throughout the recording is clear: they apparently do not care for what the woman wants, but, rather getting it done as quickly as possible, even apparently joking that it could involve forgery. Their language speaks volumes, as they casually bandy about misogynistic slurs in reference to an alleged victim of domestic violence.

This latest incident will, no doubt, add to the litany of reasons many women have to distrust the police. Institutional racism is still rife, and revelations are still pouring out on the aftermath of which, to many, may reflect police attitude to working class people. It is hardly surprising, then, if factors such as ethnicity and class are felt to also create barriers for women experiencing domestic violence.

It is clear that across the board, the police in some instances need to get better. At present, stories such as this provide examples of where they are apparently failing to respect women, and I doubt they have done themselves any favours by getting caught spitting misogyny on tape. It has been fifteen years since the Macpherson report was published, and many feel that the police are no closer to curbing their institutional racism, so it could be that there will be a very long wait for examples of  institutional misogyny to stop.

Too often, when the police are caught doing wrong, the institution is excused. “A few bad apples”, they say. Even if that is true, the rest of that expression points out that those few bad apples spoil the entire barrel. The barrel is apparently rotten through: police are referring fewer and fewer incidents of violence against women to the CPS, which reflects not a reduction in crime, but a reduction in building cases.

It is vitally important that we are critical of the police as an institution, and put pressure on them to fix themselves. It is also important that we recognise why so many women may not want to go to the police, and support them nonetheless.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor’s Letter: The Sussex teenager killed fighting in Syria

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Actor Zac Efron  

Keep your shirt on Zac – we'd all be better for it

Howard Jacobson
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit