Thursday, 28 August 2008

Boris Johnson must not risk domestic murder rise

Domestic violence murders in London are set to rise for the first time in five years, as Boris withdraws his support from the group responsible for reducing them.

Since 2003 murders in the home have fallen by an impressive 50%. This is largely due to the strategy drawn up by the Greater London Domestic Violence Project

The project which was funded by the GLA, had their contract cancelled by Boris Johnson earlier this year and the Mayor has yet to lay out an alternative strategy.

The group will continue to officially work with the GLA until September, but they are no longer in direct contact with the Mayor's office. 

The Mayor has also not submitted a replacement to the London Domestic Violence Forum Steering Group since he made the GLA's Women's advisor redundant.

Since these decisions there have been an alarming spike in the figures with thirteen deaths already recorded between April and June this year alone.

This compares to a total of nineteen deaths for the whole of last year.

Of course it is highly unlikely that the rise is a direct result of Boris's decisions. 

But whatever the reason, it should at the very least demonstrate just why there is simply no alternative to paying for people with the necessary expertise.

Wake up Boris

Because when Boris decided to axe the roles of Women's and Equalities advisors at City Hall, it was largely seen as a necessary sweeping out of the 'politcally correct' regime at City Hall. 

But if Boris had done some research before exercising his Inner Littlejohn, then he would have realised that these roles and groups are not left-wing talking shops dreamt up to keep the trots happy, but serious organisations and individuals successfully preventing the abuse and deaths of vulnerable people in the capital.


Tom said...

It's probably a little early to blame Boris, but the underlying reason is one which should have him worried, which is that violent crime rises when people are worried about the economy or under stress from economic factors.

Given the financial conditions of the past year, I'm not remotely surprised to see this news, since it's at home where this kind of stress can lead to violent outbursts.

There's a strong case, therefore, for Boris to anticipate this and put *more* resources into tackling domestic violence, since it can be expected to rise further.

Where are the statistics for this? The Met Police mapping website (pre-Boris) has *finally* been updated to July, by the way. 19 murders, raising the five month average from its low of 9.6/month in February to 15.2/month. Not good, although, at 96 for the first seven months of the year it's exactly the same as 2006 and 2007 and less than all the previous years I have data for (back to 2001).

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, maybe you should do some research before you make these claims. The DV project contract doesn't run out until the end of September - till then they should all be beavering away. Given the rise in deaths between April and June that you report perhaps Boris's decision to replace the strategy looks like the right one....or are you too closed minded to admit that?

The Troll said...

Tom -The figures were supplied to me by GLDVP. I am not sure if they are available anywhere online, but if anyone would like them I can pass them on.

It is of course too early to blame Boris, but it is at the very least bad management to cut off the group responsible for a record decrease, months before you have an alternative strategy.

Boris is thought to want to deliver a new strategy 'in house' but unfortunately there just isn't that sort of expertise internally (especially since he made two of the people responsible for this area redundant.)

My worry is that Boris doesn't yet understand the importance of this part of his job.

Anonyous- I have done my research. They are still officially contracted but since the contract was cancelled there has been an effective withdrawal of support from the group. The Mayor's office are no longer in direct contact with the GDLVP, they have been asked to withdraw form strategy discussions and no substitute has been made for the Women's advisor on the steering group.

The Troll said...

That said, I should reiterate that I am not blaming Boris for the rise as I have hopefully made clear.

The important point is as Tom says, that Boris should not see this kind of work as an easy area in which to cut corners. The spike is hopefully just that- a spike.

Anonymous said...

Decided not to post my inconvenient comment huh? so much for searching for truth....

The Troll said...

It's pretty hard to respond when

a) I don't know who you are, and
b) I have actually published and responded to every comment on this thread.

If your comment failed to publish then please send it again.

The Troll said...

On which point I should probably say that if you want to come on and take pot shots at me then it would be quite helpful if you could choose yourself a name to go under.

I don't mind anonymous comments but it is possible to give a name on the comment form without revealing your real identity. It makes it a lot easier to respond if and when anyone takes issue with anything I write.

It also gives you a leg to stand on when you are accusing me (falsely in this case) of being unaccountable.

Anonymous said...

Well I posted a second comment yesterday which mysteriously seems to have "gone missing".

I said that your assertions are incorrect:

1. The contract was not "cancelled" - it was due to end on 30th September in any event - even under Ken it was fixed term.

2. Boris has told the DVP that he values their work, and wishes to expand the strategy into a wider "Violence Against Women" strategy but this will take a few months to put in place. They will be asked to pitch for the new contract, just as they pitched for the last one.

In the intervening period, the work needed to fill the short gap will be done inhouse.

Maybe you should ask Davina for the letter she got from the GLA which explains all this - then you might see the true situation, and think about an apology.

The Troll said...

I'm not sure how limiting a domestic violence strategy for both sexes to a 'violence against women strategy' is 'wider' but there you go.

As for the work being done inhouse, this will be a little more difficult since the women's advisor was made redundant no?

If the GLVDP can re-pitch then that is all the better, but I don't see what I have to apologise for. I have reported the facts as they are. If some press officer or City Hall bod wants to come on and make anonymous comments giving a response to those facts then they are more than welcome to, but I do wish you stopped trying to suggest that I have censored you in any way. I categorically have not, as the above shows.

Anonymous said...

Youre trying hard to hold your line but it just won't do:

Lets have a little look at your opening - my comments in brackets:

Domestic violence murders in London are set to rise for the first time in five years (are they? not at all alarmist then, lets hope you remember to say you were wrong if they don't eh?) after Boris withdrew his support from the group responsible for reducing them.(not true - the contract was fixed term - nothing was withdrawn)

Since 2003 murders in the home have fallen by an impressive 50%. This is largely (really? who told you?) due to the strategy drawn up by the Greater London Domestic Violence Project.

The project which was funded by the GLA, had their contract cancelled (not true) by Boris Johnson earlier this year and the Mayor has yet to lay out an alternative strategy. (wrong - he has said he intends to bring forward a better strategy that will cover DV, but also Prostitution, trafficking, FGM, rape and other issues)

need I go on?

on your other points

1. The "women's advisor" was one of the 10 advisor appointments that Ken made - do you really think she wanted to stay to serve Boris? or that Boris should want someone so closely aligned with Ken? Maybe he should have kept John Ross too?

2. My identity is immaterial.

3. You should apologise, not for being biased - we all know that you will always think Boris is too bad to burn, but for promulgating untruths, fed by the GLDVP, on something this important.

The Troll said...

1. There has been thirteen deaths within a couple of months. Is that not 'set to rise'? Hopefully it doesn't. As I have said above, I hope it is just a spike. But it doesn't look like it.

2. It is true to say that he has withdrawn his support from them. Take a look at my comments above. It may be that he suddenly decides to give them support again in the future, just as he may decide to reinstate half price fares for people on income support (Milton seems to think he will). If he does decide to, then all the better.

3. DV Murders have declined by 50%. Is that because they have done a terrible job? Is it a complete coincidence? Again, it is possible. But usually we judge people in office by these kinds of statistics just as we judge the national government.

Of course it may be that Boris has some extra information, which shows that they have not done the good work that they appear to have done. Again, this may be true. And if so I look forward to him showing us that information.

3."He has yet to lay out an alternative strategy' (wrong, he has said he intends to lay out a better strategy)"

So has he laid one out or hasn't he? There are many things Boris intends to do. That is not the same as actually doing them

4. On the women's advisor - am i wrong? is Boris going to employ another one? As I understood it, that was not the case. He could have kept them on until he found a replacement couldn't he? Peter Hendy is pretty closely associated with Livingstone, and he is still 'hanging around.'

5.'My identity is immaterial' Well it isn't immaterial when you're demanding an apology from me and more importantly when you are stating things as facts. It would be easier for me to judge how credible you are if you told me who you are. What are you worried about exactly?

6. As for an apology, I have made it very clear both in the article and in the comments that I am not blaming Boris for the spike in the figures. My point is precisely that this is an important issue and that I don't believe Boris's actions so far have recognised that importance.

7. However, it is true that there does seem to be a disagreement/confusion between the words 'cancelled' and 'not renewed' but without knowing who you are and the validity of your information over mine, I cannot say much more about that.

8. As for your saying that I think Boris is 'too bad to burn' there is very little sensible that I can say in response to that. I have absolutely no ill feeling towards Boris as an individual. In fact in many ways I quite like him. I just happen to think that he is completely ill-suited to running the capital.

Anonymous said...

Since we’re flinging around accusations of untruths, you might wish to refrain from slandering my organisation.

I was asked for – and provided since it is a matter of public record – the numbers of domestic violence murders in London in recent years.

I did not claim the reductions were due to our work – indeed I have always been scrupulous in ensuring that the credit belongs to the partnership work which has taken place over the past eight years of which we are the mere co-ordinators. Funnily enough, the letter with which you appear to be familiar, does credit us with this achievement.

Nor did I fail to pass on the information about there being a forthcoming violence against women strategy and nor did I suggest that the Mayor was responsible for the recent rise in domestic violence murders in London (which to date stands at 16 since April 2008). In fact I was at pains to point out that we do not yet know why but that it was likely – as with most social problems – to be a combination of factors.

I expect a retraction and an apology.

Director of the GLDVP

The Troll said...

I would reiterate what Davina has just said. She in no way suggested the spike was related to Boris's decisions and nor have I suggested as such. All she did was to give me the figures which I asked for. She was also, for the record, not the original source for this story.

Lee Griffin said...

We desperately wish for the media to stop trying to sensationalise unquantified peaks in statistics...most specifically about knife crime at the start of this year...yet here "we" are employing the same tactics against the right? Seems lazy, Troll, can't we do better :)

But otherwise, great find, I think that people would be shocked to realise the mayor they voted in for a laugh won't be giving them much to smile about.

Stevep said...

Too bad to burn?! Wtf How bad would you have to be?

The Troll said...


It was not my intention to sensationalise the figures. I tried to be clear that Boris 'must not risk' a rise rather than blame him for the rise that had occured so far. If you believe that I stepped slightly the wrong side of the line then I accept the criticism.

sarah hart said...

Some of the comments above avoid considering that the one thing that the mayor can do is have a strategy. All Boris does is beat drums to say 'crime is too high' and 'we must tackle crime as a priority'.
He then closes units that are set up as part of a considered strategy and the only message we get on policing is that he will set below inflation rises in precepts, meaning that in real terms policing will be reduced.
His strategy to balance the books will fail, but the price is paid by people on the street, and in this case by vulnerable women in the home.
It isn't the case of making headlines out of figures (what would the Standard have said with the 'spike' if Ken would have retained office?)
It's about recognising whether the policies will make a positive difference or not.
Given Boris's failure to appoint any women to senior positions in his administartion speaks volumes about how little priority he has in this area.