IMPROBABLE as it may seem, there is good news to report about domestic violence. Police Scotland figures from March to August 2020 show that the number of domestic abuse crimes being recorded barely changed in the six months from the start of the coronavirus emergency measures.
Isn’t that a pleasant surprise? Why hasn’t more been made of this happy news?
Why, for instance, hasn’t Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Justice Secretary, been standing up in Holyrood to proclaim that, despite everybody’s worst fears about couples effectively being locked up together for months, there was no significant worsening of domestic violence?
Why haven’t the battalions of feminist columnists and commentators who wail about the menace to innocent women from bestial, controlling men been celebrating?
The answer is that these facts are extremely inconvenient. They tell an opposite story to the lurid and scary tale we have been fed by the Boss Class, which lines up as one behind the domestic violence lobby.
No sooner had the lockdown provisions been declared than campaigners across the UK were describing them as ‘an abusers’ charter’ and ‘life-threatening to women and children’.
As early as the end of March, less than two weeks after the lockdown began, Humza Yousaf handed out an extra £1.35million to Scottish Women’s Aid and an extra quarter of a million to Rape Crisis Scotland.
He said: ‘We want women and children experiencing domestic abuse in the home to know that although they may feel isolated and vulnerable during these unprecedented times, they are not alone.’
As early as April 20, Women’s Aid was calling for at least £48.2million in emergency funding. The domestic abuse charity Refuge claimed that calls to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline had spiked by 49 per cent.
Those claims were supported by Theresa May, who told the Commons on April 28 of ‘clear evidence . . . that abuse was increasing during lockdown because perpetrators have greater freedom to act and victims find it harder to leave’.
What evidence? She did not say. And nobody asked her. On the subject of domestic violence, normal standards of objective scrutiny are abandoned.
Thus in May, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced an extra £76million to help domestic violence charities meet supposedly unprecedented demands. The Ministry of Justice secured £25million to distribute to the agencies it already supports.
Extra public money handed over to domestic violence agencies during the six months of the coronavirus emergency may now amount to some £100million on what appears to have been an entirely bogus prospectus. That was on top of the roughly £300million which is routinely handed out in support.
So while the UK’s economy nosedived, Covid-19 provided a bonanza for the domestic violence lobby, proving yet again that it is recession-proof, inflation-proof and immune to all economic cycles and foibles.
The conduct of those agencies in this period is a perfect snapshot of how they have been running unchecked and unscrutinised for 50 years.
It is not easy to dig up financial figures for this business (Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, talks about ‘the domestic violence sector’ as if it’s a division of the economy). The operators make it as hard as they can to uncover where the money goes, despite official guidance demanding openness.
In its 2014 inquiry into charity senior executive pay, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations recommended that, for those turning over more than £500,000, the remuneration statement should be included within its trustee annual report, published in a prominent area of the charity’s website, no more than two clicks away from the homepage and alongside the remuneration, roles and names of the highest-paid individuals.
The inquiry criticised charities which hide executives’ salaries in ‘hard-to-access’ annexes of their annual reports.
The leading domestic violence agencies all flout this guidance.
Why? The most likely reason is that if those pay figures were published openly, they would probably leave many ordinary people gasping in disbelief.
You have to delve deep into the annual report of Refuge, for instance, to discover that one unnamed individual has been pocketing between £210,000 and £220,000 a year.
Who is it that is worth almost half as much again as the Prime Minister’s salary? We can only assume it must be the aforementioned chief executive, Sandra Horley.
Likewise, by scrutinising the accounts you will not easily be able to identify the Scottish Women’s Aid employee who is paid £80,000 a year. The likeliest candidate would be chief executive Marsha Scott, who rousingly declares on her Twitter feed: ‘Women’s inequality is the cause and consequence of violence against women, or, it’s the patriarchy, stupid.’
Ms Scott’s idea of inequality may not be the same as yours and mine, since her own salary appears to be about 25 per cent more than the average for CEOs in Scotland.
Beyond those individuals, it is difficult to pin down the finances of domestic violence agencies. Because they draw most of their income from the state, and are in effect agencies of the state, exact sums are hard to compute.
William Collins, the UK’s most dependable journalist for his investigations of the feminist establishment in his blog The Empathy Gap, has calculated that ‘total funding to the domestic violence charities in the UK (in 2014/15) amounted to £295million, of which at least 68 per cent was public money provided by the taxpayer’.
Collins says: ‘Of the total income, 64 per cent is expended on staff costs and only an estimated 11 per cent on the non-staff costs of running refuges.’
So instead of being used to keep women safe, most of these charities’ income is going into employees’ pockets. And to sustain the flow of cash, the definition of domestic abuse has to be ceaselessly widened.
The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act extends the definition of domestic abuse beyond the physical and ‘recognises the impact and consequences of all types of abusive behaviour. This includes patterns of controlling behaviour’.
So a word out of turn in the kitchen or an ill-advised rolling of the eyes in the bedroom may provide grounds for a complaint, inflating the records of domestic abuse cases and giving the agencies further excuse to demand yet more money.
Ironically, on the day the Act became law, Scottish Government figures showed the number of convictions involving domestic abuse fell by seven per cent in 2019, the fourth successive year of decline. Meanwhile, non-sexual violent crime has fallen by 43 per cent.
Why didn’t we hear about that change? Why didn’t Humza Yousaf celebrate that figure as proving that the millions spent on domestic violence agencies are paying off and the problem is receding?
The same questions apply to Office for National Statistics figures covering homicide in England and Wales for the year ending March 2018. They showed that a third of women who were killed were the victims of their partner or ex-partner (33 per cent, 63 homicides), the fewest in the last 40 years.
Why didn’t this wonderful news make headlines? Wasn’t it something to celebrate? Apparently not. Any suggestion that domestic abuse is becoming less of a problem would undermine the domestic violence lobby’s reason to exist and threaten its lucrative income.
None of this is to deny that a serious problem of domestic violence exists. Anyone who has spent time in an A&E department on a Friday or Saturday night, or accompanied ambulance crews in inner cities, as I have, knows that couples all too often get into fights that cause physical harm.
If, however, we want to tackle domestic violence, our first priority should be to discourage excessive drinking and drug-taking. Alcohol and drugs are so routinely involved that the whole domestic violence phenomenon can more accurately be described as a problem of insobriety, rather than anything to do with ‘the patriarchy’.
Most rows between couples that turn violent also involve accusations of wasted money – usually on drink and drugs – and/or sexual impropriety.
If the Scottish Family Party was in power, schoolchildren would be rigorously taught the perils of alcohol and the benefits of abstemiousness and teetotalism. We would teach them the dangers of sexual infidelity and the benefits of monogamous marriage. And we would teach the perils of debt and the benefits of thrift.
And we wouldn’t give Women’s Aid one more penny.