As the new Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, takes up her post this month, it looks as if her appointment may herald positive moves within the parent abuse field.
As she drew near to the end of her term as London’s Chief Crown Prosecutor, Saunders spoke in an interview of the disturbing scale of abuse perpetuated by teens against their parents and seen in the courts, with news that more than 50 boys and girls aged 13 or under, and nearly 850 older juveniles have been prosecuted for domestic violence in the past three and a half years in London alone (includes parent abuse and teenage relationship abuse). This follows the publication of the findings of the Oxford University based research which found 1892 incidents of violence in the home (including damage to property) by 13 – 19 year olds reported to the Metropolitan police between 2009 and 2010 (and here). Saunders was at pains to state that such abuse was not confined to one section of society, but drew attention to the issue of nurturing as linked to the apparent growing lack of respect within families.
Attention has been drawn elsewhere to the uphill struggle faced by Saunders, coming in to the post at this time of cuts across all services. She attracted some criticism overseeing thousands of prosecutions in the wake of the 2011 London riots, but has emphasised since that cases involving children’s violence towards their parents are considered carefully before proceeding to court; and she has made it clear that she will be giving significant attention to crimes of violence against women and girls. With alternative routes for young people within the justice system currently being explored, it is to be hoped that families can feel more encouraged to seek help through the police should it becomes necessary in the future.