Police tackle domestic violence in dawn raids

Pic: The Metropolitan Police

Dawn raids led to 30 arrests in Lewisham last week as part of a new crack down on domestic violence, police revealed on Monday.

Operation Athena, an initiative that targeted prolific and dangerous offenders, was responsible for 604 arrests across the capital last week.

The week long operation, led by specially trained officers in the Met’s Community Safety Units, coincided with White Ribbon Day, the international day for the elimination of violence against women.

According to figures released by the Met to Eastlondonlines, 24 arrests were made in Tower Hamlets, 17 in Hackney, and 15 in Croydon. Across all four boroughs, there was a total of 86 arrests.

The arrests followed a sharp increase in levels of domestic violence in the capital. One of the biggest jumps was in Tower Hamlets. 1,203 domestic offences were reported in the borough between November 2011 and October 2012, an increase of 22.8 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Police in Tower Hamlets have yet to comment on whether they expect Operation Athena to have a significant impact on domestic crime levels. Incidents increased in Hackney by 17.6 per cent, by 15.2 per cent in Croydon and by 13.2 per cent in Lewisham.

Assistant Commissioner for Territorial Policing Simon Byrne said: “The scale of the violence and abuse caused by those in domestic relationships is shocking.”

According to Byrne, about one in three women will suffer from some form of physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their partners over the course of their lives.

Running in tandem with the arrests, police have been working with local charities and taking part in community-based outreach work, victim-focused workshops and multi-agency drop in centres.

Karen Ingala, chief executive of Hackney-based charity nia, said that, although she supported the initiative by the Met to raise awareness of violence against women, more was needed than just a quick fix.

She told Eastlondonlines: “If we’re talking about a significant impact on domestic violence and other forms of violence against women, we not only have to increase police resources but also preventative services, specialist women’s services, healthcare, access to justice.

“The government says it is committed to addressing violence against women, but from its sustained attack on domestic and sexual violence services funding, welfare benefits, women’s representation and women’s bodily autonomy, it is undermining any efforts to make women and girls safer.”

Ingala, who sits on a group established by the Mayors Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) that aims to end violence to women, believes that at senior levels in the Met there is a “genuine commitment to reducing violence against women”.

But she said that such a rise in domestic crime calls for more than operations such as Athena.

She said: “We would prefer to see a longer term investment of resources, that’s the only way to make a long term impact on policing and on women’s safety and access to justice.”

[info]Facts and Figures

    • Nearly one million women experience at least one incident of domestic abuse each year
    • At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence
    • Two women are killed each week by their partner or ex-partner
    • 54 per cent of women victims of serious sexual assault were assaulted by their partner or ex-partner
    • Victims of domestic violence are more likely to experience repeat victimisation than victims of any other types of crime
    • 76 per cent of all DV incidents are repeat repeated?
    • Women experience an average of 35 incidents of domestic violence before reporting an incident to the police
    • 19 per cent of women have experienced stalking since the age of 16[/info]

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