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Case behind the guidelines: Mary Russell

  • Domestic violence among elderly couples was brought into focus by the death of 81-year-old Mary Russell in 2010.
  • Mary died of a bleed to the brain following a "domestic related" incident but is believed to have suffered abuse for some time.
  • Mrs Russell, of Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, made eight 999 calls in the seven months before she died.
  • She first reported violence to police in 2003, when she was found standing on her doorstep with blood pouring from her nose by a neighbour.
  • Her husband, Albert Russell, was arrested after his wife's death but it was decided that there was not enough evidence to prosecute the 88-year-old, who has since died.
  • A serious case review found police were failing to deal with the hidden problem of domestic violence among elderly couples.

'Intense bouts' of domestic violence suffered by elderly

Elderly domestic abuse victims are at danger of more frequent and intense bouts of violence, according to fresh guidelines from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Elderly victims of domestic abuse are often already isolated by old age, the guidelines warned. Credit: PA

New draft guidance from the CPS warned the stress of caring for an ill partner in later life could also lead to increased domestic violence.

The situation was often exacerbated by mental and physical frailty and isolation brought on by old age.

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said: "We know from research conducted by others that there is very little evidence that partner violence decreases with age, and it is important we also recognise the factors that may contribute to and impact upon domestic abuse between older people."


Domestic violence victims 'failed by police response'

A damning report into how police deal with domestic violence has found there are "alarming and unacceptable" failures.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found only 8 of 43 forces in England and Wales were currently providing a substantial service.

Thousands of domestic violence victims are being failed due to poor attitudes, ineffective training and inadequate evidence gathering, HMIC said, as it called for an urgent shake-up of the response.

Victim: Officers need more domestic abuse training

A domestic abuse victim has told ITV News that frontline police need more training.

Kimberley (not her real name) said that after being repeatedly abused by her partner she eventually went to police but felt their initial response was too "casual".

She claimed the officer who initially took her statement refused to take certain details and only took pictures of her severe injuries after she prompted him.

She added: "He was very casual. I think he did believe me but he didn't take it for the seriousness that it was."

Kimberley says her case was not handled properly at the outset, although the situation improved when it was passed to more senior officers.

She said more training was needed: "The first line of response has got to be stronger more sensitive, more training is required for these people."

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Police chief defends GMP record on domestic abuse

Greater Manchester Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy says he's disappointed by criticism of the way his force handles domestic violence cases. He points to the high number of arrests and the volume of recorded incidents.

He says they've been involved in a number of ground breaking initiatives to tackle the issue.


Four police forces 'failing domestic abuse victims'

Just eight of 43 police forces responded well to domestic abuse and the most vulnerable victims faced a "lottery" in the way their complaints were handled, inspectors said.

The forces singled out by inspectors as being of particularly serious concern were:

  • Greater Manchester
  • Bedfordshire
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Gloucestershire

Lancashire Police was hailed as having the best response to domestic abuse.

Read more: Police 'failing' domestic violence victims

Among the forces found to be of serious concern, Bedfordshire had one officer working in its domestic violence unit, and in a case in Greater Manchester, the 13-year-old daughter of a victim was asked to act as a language interpreter for officers investigating allegations against her father.

Courts not 'set up' for 'complexity' of domestic violence

The "traditional justice system" needs to be updated to help the victims of domestic violence, Lousia Rolfe said. Credit: Daybreak/ITV

The British legal system is not "set up to deal with the complexities" of domestic violence, a senior police officer told Daybreak.

Assistant Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe said officers "worked tirelessly" to protect victims of domestic violence, but legislation had not evolved enough to allow them to properly police the situation.

"It is absolutely right that when we get it wrong that we are held to account and those cases where we get it wrong are well documented but there are many cases where officers work tirelessly to protect victims everyday.

"But it is a difficult challenge for us. Our traditional justice system is not set up to deal with the complexity of these challenges."

Police response to domestic violence 'not good enough'

Refuge are calling for a public inquiry into the way police handle domestic violence, chief exec Sandra Horley said. Credit: Daybreak/ITV

Police failures in the treatment of domestic violence victims are "just not good enough" but have been prevalent for decades, the head of a woman's charity told Daybreak.

Refuge chief executive Sandra Horley explained: "We are very pleased by the HMIC report but we are not surprised. It confirms what Refuge has been saying for decades.

"For decades we have been highlighting police failings, and these failings are absolutely shocking. Two women a week are killed by a current or former partner...and to use the words of HMIC the police response is just not good enough."

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