Domestic violence cases have long posed among the biggest challenges for police. Now criticism is flying that Norwegian police systematically underestimate how serious situations are for those who finally ask for help.
The issue has sprung back to the forefront in Norway, after a woman from Thailand and her son were shot and killed in Kirkenes last week. Her 59-year-old Norwegian husband has been charged with their murders, as he recovers from what are believed to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
The woman had gone to the police the week before the fatal shootings, inquiring about residence permission for her son and reporting that she was the victim of “psychological violence” at home. She also said she intended to move to a crisis center. Police declined to respond to her report, though, writing if off as “a quarrel” at home. She was shot and killed two days later.
The crisis center’s secretariat contends there were so many risk factors at stake that police should have seen a danger of partner murder. Meanwhile, a researcher at the University of Oslo recently completed a study showing that both police and health care workers tend to overlook the serious nature of reported violence.
“The police and health services think people have a low threshold for reporting partner violence,” researcher Solveig Vatnar told news bureau NTB, “but it’s the opposite. The threshold is very high. When someone first takes contact, a lot has already happened. Just the fact that they’re seeking help should command attention.”