The Crime Harm Index - makes my blood boil

The Crime Harm Index - makes my blood boil

Today the Mail on Sunday did all victims a favour by publishing the Police Harm Index. The new Crime Harm Index, developed by the Office for National Statistics, tries to make police figures more meaningful – by giving more importance to some offences than to others.

The problem is, they are derived from the proportion of offenders jailed for each offence and the average number of days criminals spend in jail for them. So, this means it's based on the judiciary’s interpretation of crime.

The top three are: homicide, attempted murder, and female rape. Stalking is fourth from the bottom just above shoplifting, with a weight of one-tenth that of a single domestic burglary.

When you look at the case reviews of homicides by ex-partners, the vast majority of those cases had included stalking behaviour. Stalking is a precursor to serious harm, physical, sexual assault or murder. Coercive Control isn’t listed at all, because it is a new law, but based on the weighting I’m confident it would be low on this scale.

According to police statistics, victims who have previously reported domestic abuse, and their records have been marked as such, are one of the most prevalent victim groups.

  • They are the largest victim group within harassment: 48%-61%
  • They comprise over 30% of assaults with injury
  • They account for 13% of rapes

If you want to prevent murder and rape, then you need to address stalking and coercive control. Domestic abusers and stalkers have some of or all elements of the Dark Triad of personalities traits. They are narcissists, Machiavellians (master manipulators) and sadists. Stalkers are also obsessive.

The police and judiciary are used to dealing with burglars, drunken assaults, DUIs. They are ill equipped to understand how to deal with complex abuse cases that involved hundreds or thousands of incidents, which often involve perpetrators with the above personality issues.

A stalking victim is much more likely to get a judge that doesn’t understand stalking, than one that does. My mind immediately flashes back to a time I supported a domestic abuse victim whose ex was stalking her. When presented with a stalking risk assessment, the judge said, “oh we don’t want to go down that route”. And when the victim asked for a non-molestation order he refused because he said there weren’t enough grounds. He then went on to say “what do you want me to do, I’m not a social worker”. He made it clear he was bored with her case when he said, “some people are just dealt a bad hand”. I wish this victim’s experience within the criminal justice system was the exception and not the norm, but it isn’t.  

Peter Neyroud, who developed the harm index at Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology, said last night: ‘A crime harm index will help us – police, politicians, and citizens – to understand crime and the harm it causes to victims and communities better. It helps police to target serious crimes more effectively, exposing crimes like child sexual exploitation, rape, and domestic violence more starkly", yet one of the highest risk elements with domestic violence is rated low and coercive control not rated at all.

I can only scream in frustration. It doesn’t achieve his objectives; it perpetuates a criminal justice system that doesn’t deal appropriately with serious crimes that impact greatest on women. That is why the number of women murdered by partners or exes has remained stubbornly high at 2.3 women a week, as well as the estimated 500 women a year who kill themselves. The impact on children is incalculable and the cost to society and to policing translates into one of the most expensive areas of crime today.

This harm index fails to prevent serious crime, or help the most vulnerable victim groups, or even to reduce costs to police and society.

But because it is based on criminal justice outcomes, it does demonstrate the criminal justice system is failing domestic violence and stalking victims. Showing that the police, CPS, family and criminal courts need to significantly change, to protect victims and to effectively manage abusers.

 Read more:

Overview of UK Stalking laws

Overview of UK Stalking laws

The attack security experts and government are ignoring and it's costing lives.

The attack security experts and government are ignoring and it's costing lives.