Recently the Independent Police Complaints Authority (IPCA) released their report into the handling of the Roast Busters incident http://tinyurl.com/roastbusterscomplaint. To those of you who are unfamiliar with this, the synopsis is that there was a group of young men who were getting young women intoxicated and then committing sexual assaults on them. This came to light because they were boasting about their exploits on social media Facebook to be exact. I remember coming across one of their posts, I thought it was a bad joke and complained to Facebook, I have thought perhaps I should have done something more about it but the reality is that I could have changed nothing most probably. The report from the IPCA highlights some systemic issues within the Police. These have been there for a long time and need some drastic action to sort them out. The bigger part of the problem is that these are ideas, and values that are entrenched in society as well, Whilst being a member of the Police is an exclusive club and to a degree they live in a vacuum,they have their own language, values and patterns of behavior, they however they didn’t arrive from Mars, they are not aliens, nor do they come from the same gene pool (some may argue otherwise). It begs the question as to how does these behaviors still exist in the police force. In this post I am only going to comment on one and that is victim blaming, the following is my personal experience of this.
As some of you may be aware I used to be a statutory social worker, as such I dealt with notifications that alleged children and young people were in some way being abused. The definition of abuse means the” harming (whether physically, emotionally, or sexually), ill-treatment, abuse, neglect or deprivation of any child or young person.” This was a high stakes action that was at times very confrontational especially when dealing with parents and relatives who were either at risk of losing day to day care of their children or who already had lost their care. I have blogged before about the way that parents would rather expend their energy in fighting with authorities rather than addressing the issues that were causing the problems you can read about that here, http://tinyurl.com/tenthingsIwish.
I want to share one of those incidents here. I was the assigned case worker to a family, there had been multiple notifications about this family over the years,however by manipulation, threats and enforced secrecy they had avoided any action. I was given the case and quickly established the veracity of the notifications and took action which ended with the children being in care. the stories that then emerged were horrendous and were a litany of shame, professionals in their lack of action were in my opinion just as guilty if the abuse as the actual perpetrators were, sins of omission as opposed to commission, in my opinion the same thing, and this particular point is relevant to the Westy Rapists (I refuse to call them Roastbusters).
Back to the story, two of the extended family turned up demanding answers and then assaulted me when I called an end to the meeting, nothing unusual in that unfortunately what happened next was the issue. It took the Police an inordinately long time to arrive and a much longer time for any action. The Police refused to prosecute, at first it wasn’t overt, the case was lost, the officers were unavailable but in the end the truth came out, one of the Police who were involved said oh well you are a social worker you should expect it. I explained ti him is parentage and several other character defects that he possessed and told my boss about it. He said he would sort it, in the end however I had to threaten to take a private prosecution before the Police would do anything about it, so what is the problem with that you may say?
The problem with that is there was clear evidence of a crime being committed, I was acting in an official capacity as an officer of the court (as the judge pointed out when he questioned the length of time between the offence and the perpetrators being charged). when he had the facts he was livid and gave the Police a dressing down on the spot. So I guess you can say that the story was a long-winded way of saying there are a number of of culture issues within the Police. I was blamed as a victim and with the Westy Rapists the young girls were blamed as well, the concern is that the blame did not stop within the Police, it was echoed in the wider community, in my opinion just an extension of misogyny that I see and hear about, the objectification of women in so many ways in the main-stream, why should we be surprised that it is so invidious within the justice system ?
Well I guess at 800 words this post runs the risk of not being my normal concise, short and pithy missives, and reluctant as I am to stop typing, the reality is that this demands more than one post so it begins, I will follow up with at least one more but most likely a run of posts connected to this issue.
For now I will just ask you to think about how you feel about the Westy Rapists,.