Updated: Sunday, 12th July 2020 @ 9:02am

Public inquiry into domestic abuse 'must have impact as Stephen Lawrence probe had for racism'

Public inquiry into domestic abuse 'must have impact as Stephen Lawrence probe had for racism'

| By Esther Jackson

An e-petition to try and force a public inquiry into the handling of domestic violence cases from across Greater Manchester and the rest of the UK has almost reached its goal.

The national domestic violence charity Refuge, along with families of women killed by current or former partners, are calling for a public inquiry to investigate why victims of domestic violence are not getting adequate protection from the police and other state agencies.

Although the e-petition, which currently has just under 43,000 signatures, is edging closer to the 45,000 target, it is still some way short to getting the 100,000 signatures needed to force a debate on the issue in Parliament.

Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of Refuge, said: “We need a radical shift in the way our society views domestic violence – and in the way our state agencies respond to victims. 

“We believe that only a full public inquiry will catalyse this change.

“We need an event in British history that has the same generational effect on violence against women as the Stephen Lawrence inquiry had on racism.”

On average two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales.

Just yesterday, Liam King was jailed for life after he stabbed 24-year-old Becky Ayres eleven times in their Salford home.

Last year, Linzi Ashton was brutally murdered by her partner Michael Cope in Winton, and is among many women being killed as a result of domestic violence.

Ms Ashton reportedly contacted police in the months leading up to her death, saying that she feared for her life.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission are now looking into how the police dealt with allegations.

In September 2008, Sabina Akhtar was brutally stabbed to death by her husband Malik Mannan –despite warning police that he planned to kill her.

In the months leading up to her murder, Sabina, 26, contacted police and gave ‘graphic’ accounts of how she had been attacked by her husband a shocking 25 times, and even made death threats.

She also contacted social services, on three separate occasions, but they soon closed the case without doing a risk assessment.

Mannan, a taxi driver of Meldon Road, Longsight, was arrested over the assaults but he was released without charge on the advice of a Crown Prosecution Lawyer.

He killed Sabina four days later.

Mannan was later convicted of her murder and jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 17 years.

An inquest held at Manchester's Civil Justice Centre in 2012 concluded that failures by GMP, the CPS and social services 'possibly contributed' to her death.

He accused GMP of 'significant and serious failures' in their investigation of the case.

Ms Horley said it is a ‘national disgrace’ that police are still not responding to the cries of help from victims of domestic violence.

She also mentions that many of the women and children who Refuge support have voiced their ‘outrage, disappointment and shock at the treatment they have received by police’.

Additionally, she told MM the inquiry ‘would examine the state response to domestic violence from every angle, impacting on the lives of perpetrators, victims and professionals across multiple fields'.

“This perspective cannot be achieved by the tools currently at the Government’s disposal,” she said.

“For example, investigations by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), homicide inquests, Domestic Homicide Reviews and Serious Case Reviews are all valuable mechanisms, but they only look at individual cases in an isolated way.”

Ms Horley claims that in many cases, women have ‘begged police for help before being killed’.

She believes there should be a mandatory arrest policy for domestic violence, which is currently in place in Canada.

She added: “The Government has a duty to respond to domestic violence in line with international legal obligations, but it seems that they aren’t doing enough.

“Refuge truly believes a public inquiry has the potential to create an enduring legacy of change for victims of domestic violence.”

For more information on the e-petition, click here.

Image courtesy of European Parliament, with thanks.