Showing domestic violence the red card

The police already knew that Marc Chivers was a violent man and that he was a particular threat to women. In the past he had been convicted of the killing of a girlfriend, and had served time for assault against Maria Stubbings. When he was released from prison they assessed Maria as being at high risk of death or serious harm from Chivers.

But, when Maria called asking for help after he had threatened her again, the police failed her. When they finally came to Maria’s home, her killer answered the door and they left a message with him, asking her to contact them. Her body was found there the next day. The police missed opportunities to help, they didn’t talk to each other, they lost information. The basic policing which could have saved her life wasn’t done, and Maria paid with her life.

Marc Chivers committed a crime and will spend the rest of his life in prison. But we all have a human right to be protected violence, and when the police ignored Maria they failed in their duty to protect this right.

Two women a week are murdered by their partner or ex-partner. It’s happening in every community across the country. On the football pitch there are referees, linesmen, TV cameras, fans and viewers, ready to call out violence and intervene. The world is watching and violence is punished. But in homes, behind closed doors, it’s a different story. We may know someone is being abused but we hesitate, stand back, look the other way.

Women’s Aid’s Football United campaign works with football clubs across the UK, raising awareness about domestic violence and training people to be a hero off the pitch. There are no referees at home, but when someone reaches out for help they have the human right to be heard, and helped.

‘Unpunished’ shows how strongly the football community feels about violence on the pitch and uses the passion football supporters have for justice to ask why, across the UK, we are letting violence go unpunished at home.

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