Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Bit More About Domestic Violence

The Criminal Solicitor has a sobering account of a man who was cautioned by the police for an offence of domestic violence and released. He went home and murdered his wife.
This awful case points up the risk that everyone in the criminal justice system runs every day - that of taking a decision that is completely within the rules, but goes horribly wrong. As I have often said, all bail decisions are a calculated risk, and so are many sentencing decisions. Away from the courts the decision to caution rather than to charge (as in this case) or the parole decision, or that to reclassify a prisoner to open conditions are all fraught with risk.

Along with well over half of my colleagues I have now completed my Domestic Violence training, and it has helped us to understand more about the issues and the risks. The risks remain however, because they are a consequence of the unpredictability of human nature, especially in the labyrinthine complexity of the relationship between a man and a woman. Who could have predicted the appalling leap from a holiday hotel that killed a child last week? Just suppose that the man responsible had been on bail: what would the tabloids have made of that? How would the magistrate who granted bail feel? And it could have been me.

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