BACK in the Seventies when the Yorkshire Ripper was on the prowl women feared to go out on streets.
On the face of it, there have been a lot of improvements both in society’s attitude to violence against women and the way the police treat such cases – but there is still a lot of progress to be made.
The Yorkshire Ripper murdered thirteen women in a terrifying killing spree from 1975-1980[/caption]
I would say that when Peter Sutcliffe was perpetrating his crimes I would give a rating of just one out of ten to the way the police dealt with violence against women.
When he hit a sex worker over the head with a cosh and almost attacked another with a hammer he was only given a caution by officers.
This seemed to embolden him to commit more crimes.
Policing in Britain has improved significantly since the 1970s, but I would still only give the police force a rating of five or six.
We need to improve training so that officers on patrol or the staff responding to 999 calls ask the right questions and understand the impact of the answers they receive when reports of physical or mental abuse and stalking come in.
The attitude of the police changes as society changes and there is still a mindset problem in both.
On the plus side domestic abuse has received a lot of government attention and funding in recent years.
The attitude of society has certainly turned on its head, because now physical attacks on women in the home are no longer deemed acceptable.
The police wouldn’t have even dealt with a husband slapping a wife back then.
Peter Sutcliffe died aged 71 today from coronavirus [/caption]
But I think the level of domestic abuse is just as high as it was back in Sutcliffe’s day.
Last year we saw the number of female victims of homicide rise to a 13-year high, with 241 killed.
The number of victims of domestic abuse and stalking, mainly among women but also among men, are going through the roof.
Lockdown has thrown a light on the coping strategies needed by women to deal with the men who are abusing them.
DANGEROUS ATTITUDES LINGER
It’s clear many of the dangerous attitudes from the Sutcliffe era linger.
I think there is still a belief among some people that a woman’s place is in the home.
And even today you will hear judges make comments in court about ‘she shouldn’t have been dressed like that’ and sadly a lot of people would say that was a fair comment.
You only need to look online to see the abusive and threatening language used against women.
A lot more work needs to go into men and women respecting each other. Parents and schools need to help young people to recognise healthy relationships.
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It is positive that the issue of coercion and control within relationships is now moving up the political agenda.
We need people to learn that a healthy relationship does not involve being clipped around the ear or being told to speak when you are spoken to.
Until we learn to respect each other, men like Sutcliffe will continue to exist.