The Guardian today has a feature in its supplement about a mother who was shot dead by her estranged husband, who also murdered their son. The victim had told a number of people that her husband had made clear his desire to kill her, after the wife told him she no longer wanted to be married to him as a result of his vindictive and obsessively controlling nature. The woman had taken out an injunction barring him from the house and she had been flagged as a priority - any call from her house, even if silent, would be answered.
But still, the husband managed to kill her.
The paper draws attention to the shoddy treatment she actually received - when she actually made her final call, as her armed husband was kicking her door in, the police had to ask for her address. But there’s another thing which sticks out about this wretched story:
Thames Valley Police, it must be recalled, have to live with the consequences of the Hungerford killings in 1987 in which an officer was murdered.
Hungerford was an incident in which a man killed a large number of people in a small town in west Berkshire, including his own mother and a police officer. But does this mean that the police held off going to this woman’s aid because of the fear that a police officer would get hurt? This has, in fact, happened before - a woman pleaded on the phone for police, who were waiting outside, to come in an rescue her from an armed attacker she said was unconscious or dead. The police didn’t, because they thought the woman was being induced to say this by a man who was still armed and conscious.
The problem is that the police are supposed to be like soldiers - people who are out there to protect the public from criminals, in the same way as soldiers protect the people from foreign invasion. What’s the point of having police if they shirk their duty because they’re afraid for their own skin? Can you imagine the army or RAF shirking because previous actions resulted in soldiers or airmen getting killed in action? We have heard of men getting shot dead in the street because they were carrying a table-leg in a bag which police mistook for a gun. We also know how imperious and aggressive they can be. If they won’t do what it takes to protect the people, they should find another job.
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