In the wake of several posts on here about Parkside Police Station in Cambridge and the experiences of a friend of mine arrested for a piffling offence, not charged, but still on the DNA Database, I have had an e-mail from a Cambridge woman who tells a nightmare story about Cambridge City Council and their insistence that she go to the police before they would help her find a place in a refuge for abused women. The following are extracts from her e-mail:
"I have been married for many years, and it has been a complex and often unhappy marriage, mingled with great times and much love and support. There were elements of physical and verbal abuse on occasion, and by that I do not mean broken bones or terrible bruising, but as my husband suffered from an obsessive mental disorder, the situation is too complex to explain in a few sentences.
"Recently, I found myself absolutely at breaking point and sought help, wanting to find accommodation and support at a hostel for abused women so that I could sort my life out, and review the future of my marriage. I was terribly stressed and unhappy. My husband was oblivious.
"I was told that Cambridge City Council would help me to find a place in a hostel and went to them, to be told that I should go to the police - this would help my case greatly. I did not want to do this. My husband is not an evil man, and the situation between us was, as I wrote before, complex. But the City Council was insistent.
"I went to Parkside Police Station in Cambridge and saw a police officer there who basically cuckolded me into believing that the police would simply have to speak to my husband. This shocked me. I did not want to give my husband's name, but I was worn down so did so and gave the officer his name, description and the telephone number. I did not want to give any of this information. I simply wanted to get away. I begged the police officer not to take further action. He said "If you hadn't wanted us to do something, you wouldn't have come here.' I only went there because Cambridge City Council informed me that I should do so if I wanted to get a place in a hostel. This, as it turned out, was false information.
"My husband was arrested. I had no idea this would happen. When I arrived at the hostel, I was told by staff and management that they would have accepted a referral without any police involvement at all!
"The involvement of the police against my wishes, and the bizarre stance of Cambridge City Council in falsely informing me that police involvement would aid my getting a place at a hostel has contributed to the stress and disruption as my life has basically fallen to pieces.
"My husband has been criminalised, and is now on the DNA Database you mention, the complexity and stress of the situation has grown tenfold, and I cannot help but wonder what was the motivation of Cambridge City Council and Parkside Police Station in misleading me. Many women would be put off seeking aid if they knew they would be forced to go to the police before being granted any.
"Is this just Cambridge? Staff and management of the hostel I went to, which was many miles away, were greatly surprised at the stance taken by Cambridge City Council. I repeat, they said they would have accepted a referral without any police involvement.
"Is this a way the Cambridge police, aided and abetted by Cambridge City Council, use to reach Government targets for arrests and charges?"
It certainly surprises me that this has happened. And I can imagine many abused women being put off seeking escape by having to jump the hurdle of talking to the police and getting their husbands arrested before any help is given.
This, coupled with my friend's experiences at Parkside Police Station, has made me very concerned indeed about the state of our local police authority and city council.