Lancashire's shameful toll of women, girl and babies killed by men is revealed

Startling and unacceptable statistics show roughly every 76 days in the county, another female resident becomes a victim of femicide - the term used to describe the killing of a woman by a man.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 9:14 pm

Some of their killers are already free from prison, and in other cases the men responsible had already killed or been violent before.

We also acknowledge a further seven women and youngsters, aged from seven weeks to 94, who we are unable to name due to pending legal proceedings.

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The murder of Jane Clough triggered calls for action to help women in abusive situations
The murder of Jane Clough triggered calls for action to help women in abusive situations

In 2010 the high profile murder of nurse Jane Clough as she arrived for her shift in the car park at Blackpool Victoria Hospital led to widespread shock and condemnation, as well as tireless campaigning by her grieving parents to raise awareness of domestic violence.

More than ten years on, despite promises to toughen up legislation and educate the nation, a shameful tally of deadly violence against the county’s women continues.

The disappearance of 33-year-old Sarah Everard in south London in March, and the death of community support officer Julia James in Kent have once again triggered dialogue around violence and murder perpetrated by men against women.

Jane was stabbed 71 times by her violent ex, former ambulance technician Jonathan Vass, who is serving 30 years.

Jane Clough's parents Penny and John

Her mum Penny says: “When I hear of another woman or child losing their life it kills me a bit more each time.

“If it was 48 deaths by any other reason, operation failures, disease, people would be absolutely horrified.

“It’s almost becoming normalised. The fact is men are not afraid to kill women. The consequences to the perpetrator are absolutely piffling.

“There are too many flaws in the system.

“The first responsibility of governments is to keep their population safe and you just think, ‘come on’ - they’re letting out people who do the most horrific acts time and time again and that’s acceptable?

“It should never be acceptable. Men like that will always be a danger. “We feel very very strongly that when Vass gets out he will be a risk to other women - why is that acceptable?

“Every episode of domestic abuse is a deliberate act and these guys know what they are doing.”We spent 10 years campaigning like crazy to try to make things different - the only reason we became campaigners is because Jane could no longer speak.

“Some very good things have happened in that time, but it’s frustrating that it’s still happening. We need to do everything we can to keep victims safe.

“We also need to be very careful about what we show is acceptable in society. There are rap songs released that glorify hitting women - it makes me feel sick. It speaks volumes about how some people have so little value about women, and our younger generations are listening to that.”

The circumstances around Lancashire’s female death toll, with alleged victims ranging from seven weeks to 88 years old, makes for upsetting and grim reading.

The majority of the victims - 11 - were in their 40s.

Three were baby girls under 19 months, and four were girls aged under 19.At the other end of the scale five women were over 70.

At least 27 were killed by, or alleged to have been killed by, partners or former partners.

Five others were victims of parricide - the killing of a parent or close relative.

The majority - 17 - had suffered fatal injuries with sharp instruments, while 12 died from head injuries and six suffered injuries from blunt force.

A further 11 were asphyxiated.

The highest death toll was in 2017, when nine Lancashire women or girls lost their lives - four in the Manchester arena attack.

The deaths of many of the victims we remember today are highlighted in the Femicide Census - a unique database of UK victims aged 14 and upwards.

It was created by Karen Ingala Smith, chief executive of Nia, a sexual and domestic abuse charity, and Clarrie O’Callaghan, a former solicitor.

The census ranks Lancashire as having the 13th highest female killings out of 42 police forces, and highlights that nationally a woman dies every three days at the hands of a man.

Clarrie says: “ The Femicide Census documents the number of women killed at a national level, but it’s locally where the pain of these killings is felt.

“These women are our loved ones, but also colleagues, friends, a mother at school, our parents’ oldest friend.

“ We need Lancashire Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner to work to ensure these killings are never seen as ‘isolated incidents’. There are patterns that can be identified that can prevent future deaths.

“And we are calling on all MPs across Lancashire to advocate for change so that no more women are killed in their constituencies. We hope they at least now know their names.”It is recognised femicide is not solely a Lancashire issue - global UN figures show six women are killed every hour by men around the world."

Female members of JPI media staff have read out the names of every Lancashire victim in a video, in a bid to raise awareness of the shameful tally of deadly violence against the county’s women.

Therese Sanders, Justice and Safety programme manager for the Lancashire Women organisation, says the only way to change what is happening is “via the world, starting with us, having this conversation”.

She explains: “Our stance is we are the supporters of these women who have suffered.

“It’s about male violence as a whole, it’s about the messages we as a society teach boys - part of that comes from the home, it comes from the school - and challenging that normalisation of the oppression of women. But sometimes people don’t want to talk about it.

“We don’t like to accept it but society’s views of women are still very stereotypical.

“That God awful statement ‘boys will be boys’ seems to be an excuse for violent behaviour, and it’s those small things - those small messages - that children learn from.

“It’s about unpicking all these old fashioned beliefs, but it’s complicated and difficult - women have these beliefs ingrained in us as well.

“It’s not that we don’t want to support men or hate all men. It’s about bridging and minimising inequality and unconscious bias.”

A Lancashire Constabulary spokesman said: "Women and girls should feel safe to walk the streets day or night free from the fear of harassment, threats and violence.

"We would reassure people that Lancashire Constabulary remains committed to keeping people safe and feeling safe and when needed, we can be trusted to consistently deliver a competent and compassionate service 24/7.

"We take all reports of crime seriously and if anyone feels they have been a victim they should contact us confident in the knowledge we are committed to supporting victims and providing the best possible service at all times.

"We are a force with Violence Reduction Unit funding and work with partners to create safer communities by tackling the root causes of violence. This includes work in schools and colleges.

Where to get help

If you, or anyone else, is in immediate danger call 999, and if you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone press 55 - this will transfer your call to the relevant police force who will assist you without you having to speak.

You can call police on 101, report online at the Lancashire Constabulary - Report Online website or you can contact Lancashire Victim Services

Blackburn – The Wish Centre: 01254 260465

Blackpool – SafeNet: 01253 347119

Preston - 01772 201601

Lancashire Victim Services: 0300 323 0085

Lancashire Refuges: 0300 303 3581

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