A woman flagged as a priority victim after suffering years of abuse from her ex said a police inspector made her feel like she was ‘wasting his time’
A domestic violence victim who called 999 when her ex-partner threatened her was told that officers were “too busy” to attend.
The woman, who has asked to be known only as Laura for her own protection, called police this week when her ex – who has a court-ordered lifetime ban from going near her – turned up at her workplace in Cardiff city centre and started shouting, throwing objects and terrifying her colleagues and customers.
But despite being flagged as a priority victim – who previously made more than 50 calls regarding incidents including multiple assaults and harassment – many of which have gone to court – police decided Laura was only a “stage two” priority, meaning they only had to attend within one hour.
When an hour had passed, a member of police staff called to say officers could not attend because they were “too busy”.
Laura was asked instead to go to Cardiff Central police station the next day and, when she complained there about her treatment, she was told: “Madam, if you can understand we are an emergency service.”
Laura, who left her partner four years ago after suffering years of abuse at his hands, said the inspector at the police station made her feel like she was “wasting his time”.
“I was so upset, he made me feel like a child,” she said.
“It was the same as the way my ex-partner used to make me feel.”
Laura has since been visited by officers who apologised and kept her updated with progress on the case, but she said their efforts were, “too little, too late”.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is undertaking five separate investigations into how South Wales Police has dealt with complaints of domestic and sexual abuse., including one case in which a woman was told by officers at Fairwater police station to go home to her abusive ex-partner, who attacked her with a hammer two days later.
Laura – who approached WalesOnline after reading about the 2009 murder of Joanna Michael in which police were criticised for their slow response – said: “When I was in a relationship with my ex I was scared of going to the police because he told me that if I did he would hurt me.
“But in the end I did and, when my second son was born, I found the courage to get out.
“Since then, I’ve moved to a different area of the city but every now and then he comes back and I have to call the police.
“To call them yesterday, in the state I was in – not knowing if he would come back or not – and to be told I wasn’t an ‘emergency’ was gutting.”
But despite her experience, Laura urged other victims of abuse to pluck up the courage to seek help, adding: “When you are in an abusive relationship they take your confidence away and make you feel you’re never going to meet anyone but them.
“But you will, and I hope women reading this will have the confidence to seek help and get out.”
Chief Inspector Helen Summerfield said South Wales Police was committed to taking positive action in all domestic violence cases.
She said: “It is regrettable that the victim feels let down by the service provided by South Wales Police on this occasion and we are doing all we can to progress the investigation as a matter of urgency and provide the victim with the best possible care.
“Domestic abuse is unacceptable and we want to encourage victims to have the confidence to report incidents to us.
“We have specially-trained officers in Cardiff to ensure victims receive all support possible from the moment they make a report throughout any court proceedings that may follow.”
Anyone who wants to talk to someone about abuse can contact a free Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 80 10 800. Alternatively they can call South Wales Police 101 or 999 in an emergency.
News published on: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/victim-domestic-abuse-told-police-3408753