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Predict and Tag: A New Frontier in Crime Prevention

'The Home Office will help develop a new risk assessment tool so that police forces can quickly identify domestic abusers most likely to commit the greatest harm – even where there is no conviction'

People convicted or suspected of domestic abuse will face tags and more intense scrutiny under new measures to protect women and girls. The new proposals go further than before in protecting women and girls from harassment, aggression and violence, and focus on stopping domestic abuse before it takes place.

The government will develop a new digital tool which will use police data to identify individuals who are high risk and likely to commit domestic abuse offences. Around 2.4 million people in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse in the last year, with around one in five related homicides, according to the Home Office.

As if incarceration wasn't enough, starting immediately anyone jailed for 12 months or more for coercive control, including suspended sentences, will be placed on the violent and sex offender register. The Home Office will help develop a new risk assessment tool so that police forces can quickly identify domestic abusers most likely to commit the greatest harm – even where there is no conviction.

New civil orders being trialled in three areas in the UK could also see offenders electronically tagged and made to attend 'behaviour change' programmes. Meanwhile, the Ask for Ani codeword scheme – which allows those believing themselves to be at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal they need help – will now be piloted in Jobcentre offices across the country. Why this pilot was to be launched specifically in jobcentres asks questions of the social vulnerability levels of the people – women? - being singled out for scrutiny.

In recent months, the issue of domestic abuse perpetrated by police officers and staff has also made headlines. A review last year found there were systemic problems in the way some police forces in England and Wales dealt with such allegations against their own officers and staff. In the Metropolitan Police alone, the force is investigating 1,000 sexual and domestic abuse claims involving about 800 of its officers.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “Domestic abuse is a despicable crime that leads to people’s closest relationships becoming a frightening existence of torment, pain, fear, and anxiety. It is completely unacceptable and as Home Secretary I will do everything in my power to stop it.”

Brian Hudson, secretary of FACT (Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers) said: 'This will encourage more false accusations and furthermore put additional stress on the already overloaded monitoring agencies such as probation and police liaison officers. Knee-jerk reaction again and will be under funded and understaffed'.

Predicting who will commit crime is extremely problematic, and has been a topic of anxiety since well before Tom Cruise stood accused of a murder he didn't know he was going to commit in Steven Spielberg's Minority Report (based on a Philip K. Dick book) in the late nineties. The scope for false allegations based on malicious gossip and rumour is already incredibly wide under Keir Starmer's 'believe victim' principle. With these new guidelines, more Johnny Depp/Amber Heard-style cases will become almost inevitable. The absence of any mention of the abuse of men and boys by women or girls also indicates the shadow of Operation Soteria/Soteria Solutions (famously charged with getting conviction rates up for sexual allegations for profit motives in the US).

In a post-Depp-Heard cultural climate where the long tail of the #MeToo movement has been exposed as a money-making sham, picking low-hanging fruit from a testosterone laden tree - and where there are weekly stories of young women being sent to prison for perverting the course of justice in the UK - this looks like a tone-deaf policy from Braverman, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab and PM Rishi Sunak. The presence of the proudly predictive element of the guidelines should give all rights organisations cause for alarm, as since the 911 attacks in New York it's been clear how scope-creep enables democratically assured freedoms to be removed, piece by piece.

The sexually biased tone of the guidelines never once mentions the up to half of cases of domestic violence being perpetuated by the female party, particularly in regards to the psychological harassment and coercion as detailed in the policy. This is more cause for concern, seemingly driving a coach and horses through the protected characteristics of equal rights laws in terms of sex and gender. But, presumably, it's not sexually biased as long as it's the government using the word 'vile' in its policy releases.

By Sean Bw Parker

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