Domestic violence is the greatest cause of harm in British society, one of Britain’s most senior police officers has warned.
Chief Superintendent John Sutherland of the Metropolitan police was speaking at the Tackling Britain’s Gang Culture conference, where people whose lives have been affected by gangs and street crime gathered to discuss the causes of the problems, the impact and possible solutions.
Sutherland said he had concerns over sexual exploitation and the absence of positive role models, but said children growing up with violence in the home was the biggest contributor to problems in society.
“I think we’ve barely begun to understand the secondary impact that violence has on these people whose homes it’s happening in,” he said. “I promise you, it’s having a devastating effect. I regard domestic violence as the single greatest cause of harm in society. I think we have moved a long way in our understanding of [it, because] 25 years ago it was regarded as pretty much a private issue. Violence begets violence, and as a society we’re addicted to it.”
Sutherland said the problem with gangs was not limited to a specific age group, neighbourhood or ethnic background.
“It’s a whole-society problem that demands a whole-society solution.”
He described the absence of “good fathers” as a critical issue, while the sexual exploitation of women, particularly in gang culture where, the conference heard, young girls are raped and used in initiations, is “a horror story, hidden from view”.