There are plans to introduce a database to hold the details of violent men. This is a recommendation made by the Association of Chief Police Officers after a review ordered by Jacqui Smith when she was Home Secretary.Â Under the recommendations, the 25,000 or so serial domestic violence offenders will have to register with the police for inclusion on the database. In the same way the Sex Offenders Register works, non-registration would be an offence. Women would then be given the “right to know” if they were safe from potentially violent men.
If approved by Parliament it would also include a new offence of “liability for suicide”, one in three female suicides are thought to be as a direct result of domestic abuse.
Anything that reduces violence against women and girls is something that should be welcomed. But this whole initiative is aimed exclusively at violence by male against female. As has been shown by recent cases of female sexual abuse against minors, we stereotype at our peril. We need to ensure any laws enacted are not gender specific. Although the reported cases a rare, women have been known to abuse their male partners.
We now have the innocent, the guilty innocent (link), the guilty and the monitored.
In years gone by when communities were smaller and more tightly knit, everyone knew everyone else’s business so control over this type of behaviour was exercised by peer pressure. Strangers were treated with suspicion, making it harder for people to relocate to continue their offences.
We are never going to go back to those days, but we are attempting to emulate it via the Excel spreadsheet. Databases do not administer justice nor do they rehabilitate offenders. Just making a list will not change the offender’s violent bent. This may result in their tendencies erupting in another unpredictable direction.
By placing someone on this type of list we potentially limit their access to society, to jobs and to normal social interaction. They become divorced from the rest of us. This is not going to help them become better citizens. How this database will help other than allowing the police to know where they are and then visit everywhere they live to tell the women in the house about him isn’t clear. Will it be part of the sentence and therefore part of a prison service to probation service rehabilitation system? Or will it just be a list to make us feel better and safer whilst making the job of the police easier but ultimately changing nothing?