Gaza protests ‘holding off justice’ as domestic abuse victim ‘unable to see’ redeployed detectives

2 May 2024, 15:35

Gaza protests ‘slowing down justice’ as domestic abuse victim ‘unable to see’ redeployed detectives
Gaza protests ‘slowing down justice’ as domestic abuse victim ‘unable to see’ redeployed detectives. Picture: LBC/Alamy
Fraser Knight.

By Fraser Knight.

A victim of domestic abuse and stalking has told LBC she fears the redeployment of police to deal with protests is leaving her and her mum in more danger.

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Tara* from north London said on three occasions since October, she’s been told by the Metropolitan Police that dedicated officers, assigned to her case, have been unable to see her.

Just hours before we met to speak on a bench, looking onto a playpark and stores covered in graffiti, the head of the Met had admitted to LBC that a lack of resources meant there were gaps in what’s being achieved on the streets.

But that’s being made more difficult with the number of officers needed to deal with ongoing protests.

Scotland Yard says more than 45,000 officer shifts have been dedicated to respond to large demonstrations linked to the war between Israel and Hamas since October, with 6,400 rest days having been cancelled.

Read more: Outrage after Holocaust memorial in Hyde Park covered up during pro-Palestine march through London

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Redeploying officers for protests 'putting abuse victims at greater risk'

Tara, who first reported the abuse from her now estranged step-father in 2020, told us: “The officer who was taking our witness statements, building the timeline and collating the evidence, we were told he’d been taken to the front line, to deal with the protests.

“It means there’s been delays to the witness statement being taken - and it’s emotionally tiring and very taxing to prepare for it.

“One of the problems with the same officer not being able to take the statement consistently is that it’s frustrating, it’s exhausting.

“You gear yourself up to talk about some quite horrific incidents of abuse and you’re told on the day that the officer is not there. You end up feeling quite distressed.”

Palestine protesters in London
Palestine protesters in London. Picture: Alamy

Emails shown to LBC which have been sent by Tara’s abuser in the past few weeks alone have contained extremely abusive language and threats of serious sexual violence.

And while she and her mum managed to get him out of their family home, she says he still shows up at their house threatening them on a regular basis.

“When you’re getting physical threats against you and your property, you don’t feel like you can leave your home,” she said, “but you also don’t feel safe in your own home.

“You’re getting banging on the door, threats of violence. It can happen at three in the morning or four in the afternoon, 10 o’clock at night - you never know when it’s going to happen again.”

A protester with Palestian flag and 'Ceasefire Now' placard stands shouting on Parliament Square.
A protester with Palestian flag and 'Ceasefire Now' placard stands shouting on Parliament Square. Picture: Alamy

Last weekend marked the 13th national march by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, but now police are having to accommodate a growing number of pro-Israel protesters who show up to the events, to counter the demonstration.

Scotland Yard has said several times that officers have had to be ‘abstracted’ from their regular roles to meet the demands of policing protests.

But sources insisted to LBC that the force is “well-resourced” and able to meet its commitments so that local policing continues.

Speaking to LBC on Wednesday, the Met Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, spoke again about the resourcing constraints he faces.

He said: “I would like us to be a bigger organisation - New York spends 50% more per capita on policing than is done in London and that is indicated by the stretch we have on the streets.

He added: “We take stalking very seriously, it’s often a precursor to physical violence.

“Violence against women and girls is a growing issue, in terms of what’s reported to us - reports of sexual assault through to stalking have quadrupled in the past decade.

“We’re putting hundreds of more officers and staff into that area to do the best we can to respond to the crimes and prosecute as many as we can.”

Tara told us that even when response officers had come to speak to her and her mum about new threats and reports against their abuser, she felt their minds were elsewhere.

“They came round to our house and they were talking about themselves having to go and deal with the protests,” she said.

“They told us the delays that were happening in our case were to do with the protests and that other people reporting complex crimes are having disruptions to the investigation in their case too.

“As officers they actually seemed very upset by this themselves - I don’t think that they felt they could provide us with the service they would have liked to.”

Tara ended our interview by pleading with the protest organisers, asking them to consider the impact their ongoing demonstrations are having on the ability of police to respond to other crimes and keep people safe.

“Protest is a wonderful thing, but this is holding off justice, causing delays and putting victims in a situation where they can’t escape their circumstances as quickly as they might’ve been able to otherwise”.

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