Suicides of the Accused

Caroline Flack

I do not watch TV so the name Caroline Flack meant nothing to me. I believe she has killed herself following being charged in connection with an assault on her boyfriend. I know nothing about the case and have no comment to make about it. I am more concerned, as usual, with the gendered aspects of the media (and popular) reactions to these events.

HEqual has already addressed an aspect of this, namely the very different reactions of three female Labour MPs to Flack’s suicide compared with that of Labour Welsh Assembly Member Carl Sargeant. HEqual makes a valid point in contrasting the two.

This morning (17/2/20) Radio 4’s Today programme interviewed barrister Charlotte Proudman about the Caroline Flack affair, perhaps because of her well-known even-handedness in such matters. She claimed there had been “a show trial”, a rather odd thing to assert as the case had not yet come to trial.

The concern in some quarters appears to be that Flack’s suicide was precipitated by a draconian Crown Prosecution Service deciding to prosecute her. Let us leave aside that the CPS’s decision to prosecute anyone is based on their judgment of the likelihood of gaining a conviction. A further concern relates to whether the news media and social media played a part in Flack’s suicide. Does anyone doubt that Flack’s sex is the actual reason for this consternation?

My point is – reinforcing that of HEqual – that Dr Proudman and the various female Labour MPs would have remained utterly unconcerned had the suicide in question been male. Let us look at the evidence.

Two years ago I compiled 146 cases of false allegations of sexual assault (mostly rape) in the UK. I excluded celebrities and politicians from that list (though I considered them later). 25 of the false accusers in these 146 cases had previously falsely accused at least one other man. 14 of them had falsely accused more than two men. The 146 cases involved 16 deaths. 12 of these were the suicide of the wrongly accused, one was the suicide of the falsely accused’s mother, one was the suicide of the alleged false accuser, one was a homicide due to vigilante action, and one was the death in prison of an innocent man.

Apart from the case of the falsely accused’s mother, and the case of the alleged false accuser, the other 12 suicides were all men. I recall no protestations from Dr Proudman about “show trials” in those cases. Notice the alarming prevalence of these suicides: 12 out of 146 cases (8%). And these men were innocent.

How common is suicide amongst those accused of serious crimes and awaiting trial or verdict? Consider homicide. In round numbers there are about 650 homicides per year in England & Wales, but probably fewer than 450 are brought to trial. (Currently over 200 have no suspect to charge). So, of these 450 or so defendants, how many die before being tried or sentenced? The answer is about 30, and about 90% of these are by suicide. 95% of these suicides are men. Again it is a large percentage: 30 out of 450, or ~7%. Some of these men may have been innocent, but – statistically speaking – it is likely that most were guilty. But the suicide rate is much the same as for the aforementioned men who suicided after being falsely accused of sexual assault,

And that brings me to the most curious piece of evidence, namely that suicidal ideation by potential perpetrators is the best predictor of partner homicide. This has been revealed by the analysis of Bridger et al (2017) which reviewed 188 cases of intimate partner homicide recorded in England and Wales between April 2011 and March 2013. Offenders in these cases were 86% male and 14% female, and vice-versa for the victims. Whilst perpetrators had high rates of substance abuse (mostly alcohol) and prior offending, the most disproportionately prevalent characteristic was suicidal ideation, self-harm or suicide attempts by the perpetrator.

Prior to the homicide, 40% of the male offenders were known by someone, but often not to police, as suffering suicidal ideation, self-harm or attempted suicide. For female offenders the figure was 28%. Post-offence suicide attempts occurred in 33.4% of cases with a ‘success’ rate for the perpetrator of 24.2% of those attempts. It is striking how dramatically higher this success rate is than amongst the general public (2%-5%). The authors conclude, rather remarkably, that,

Of all of the characteristics, suicide ideation appears to be the most over-represented in relation to the general population. Chronic substance abuse, cohabitation and even prior crime against the victim are so widespread and prevalent in the population generally that they would massively over-predict domestic homicide. Suicidal ideation or attempts, however, appear to be much rarer in the population. Thus, a 40% rate of suicidal indication among the male offenders may be the most useful of any of these characteristics in distinguishing people who are much more likely to kill their partners than other offenders.”

And also,

It is plausible that many more intimate partner homicides might be accurately predicted, and perhaps prevented, with more public investment in obtaining data on suicidal indicators and more proactive treatment of domestic abuse offenders known to suffer suicidal tendencies.”

This is particularly noteworthy as research by the police in Thames Valley and in Dorset have shown that tools such as the Domestic Abuse Stalking and Harassment instrument (DASH) have failed to predict most cases of domestic homicide, see Bridger et al (2017) for details.

Conclusions

Suicidality, and completed suicide, are vastly more common amongst people who perpetrate serious violent crimes, or are charged with serious violence offences, as well as amongst those falsely accused of sexual offences.

Suicide of the accused, whether guilty or innocent, overwhelmingly involves men.

Whilst I make no comment on the Caroline Flack case, cases like this should be seen in the context of the above observations. In particular that suicidality is hugely increased by being accused, charged or tried. This has overwhelmingly affected men more than women, but has not been seen as a problem to be addressed in the context of men.

7 thoughts on “Suicides of the Accused

  1. Chaffers

    I saw recently that Jeremy Corbyn was demanding another £170 odd milion for the domestic violence industry. Hence I started wondering what Labour’s share of that would be, what proportion filters back to them or their supporters.

    And I say Domestic Violene industry because the more I look into this the scale of it beggars belief. Indeed I suspect it is one of the largest industries in the UK, and certainly the only one which has a government backed industrial strategy.

    From what I am hearing each MARAC will have up to or around 20 participants. Women’s Aid being the most important attendee. Their advertised budget each year is £4.5 billion, though I do wonder at the accuracy of their accounts, much of it is tax payer funded.

    There will also be several social workers from different persuasions, hence it is very difficult to put a figure on how much these actually cost. Each council holds the budget independently though I have seen that they have collectively overspent by about £200 million this year.

    Usually 2 police officers, one chairing and other one taking the minutes. Sometimes a third. Each actual police hoccifer these days though has around 7 support staff behind them. Hence again it is difficult to estimate how much of the police’s budget goes on the DVI though purely based upon the number allocated to an county area I’m thinking about 20%. The police budget is £13 billion without including capital costs.

    Then you have various charities.. Women’s aid as mentioned, Barnados, Save the Children, most of which seem to be publicly funded these days. Gordon Brown apparently stuck all of his cronies into the charities as a form of guerilla warfare after the GFC in 2008. Even the RSPCA seems to be effectively a government department these days.

    A surprise for me was the number of people from the NHS… Health visitor for a start though several more too. I was a bit confused as to why though the answer appeared to be simply that it was guaranteed funding should a doctor’s surgery, a substance misuse councillor or whatnot attend a MARAC. See the DVI is prioritised above all other industries.

    Probation are often there, a domestic violence specialist, education – several of them if children are in different schools, mental health, drug and alcohol services, independent domestic violence advisor, CAFCASS, and often county level resources too such as NACCC, Domestic abuse coordinator and yet more charities.

    Course you also get either a homelessness or a housing representative. Anecdotally I hear that 95% of social housing now goes to ‘victims’ of domestic violence, the other 5% to mental health cases. Even that is if the ‘victim’ has several instances of false accusations against them. In other words almost the entire stock of social housing with an annual budget of £26 billion, plus the sunk capital costs, actually belongs to the DVI. Amusingly I was told that an entire council estate had been taken over by immigrants from one nationality, and separately that DV and alcoholism was rife in that community. The respondent had not made the connection, namely that they know how to play the system. Any accusations of DV get absolute priority for social housing hence they are all in on it… The blokes tell tales of spectacular vodka consumption and their wives tell tales of DV resulting in a council house pronto..

    So looking at this dispassionately it strikes me that figuring out how much all this costs is almost deliberately impossible. Women’s aid itself ofr instance is government funded, as are the independent advisors, and therefore budgetarily directly atributable to the DVI. Everything else is salami sliced from other budgets… Next time you hear that the governemnt are giving mor emoney to the NHS realise that it is likely to go on more MARAC attendees ( apparently the number of NHS at these has increased considerably), to educashun the same… Social housing almost entirely so. Council tax raises to pay for more social workers, to attend MARACs.

    The police love them, as they think they get entirely free intelligence from these conferences. This is why there aren’t any police on the streets… Trouble is I can’t imagine even the KGB attempting to inflitrate a critical foreign government would run an intel operation necessitating 20 attendees. And intel operation it is.. Whilst people are suspicious of social workers now not so much with health visitors, or the local school, or the GP etc.

    So as a bloke who has been falsely accused every single government function will be of the impression that you require punishing and reeducating by spiteful vicious feminists. The idea that the woman merely wants a council house will never enter their heads. It’s all confidential of course,

    The banking industry is worth £160 billion a year and I don’t think the DVI budget when looked at in it’s totality rivals it. Though it wouldn’t suprise me if it was considerably more than half that when all things are considered.

    This is defintiely one of the biggest industries in the UK, and if you wanted to kill the Blairite Britain vampire then this is where the stake should go.

    The question puzzling me is why Corbyn was so keen on getting extra cash for it, and logically how this funnels back to New Labour’s coffers.

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  2. Vincent McGovern

    Ahhhh, the eternally available Dr Charlotte Proudman, Barrister, and perpetual victim of the patriarchy (sic), declares that Caroline Flack was a victim of a ‘show trial.’ Despite no trial as you astutely note. I once met M’Lady Proudman. In reality not nearly as good looking as her profile photo which galvanised her career because a male Solicitor whom she solicited, (is there a pun there) complimented her on her photo. Sometimes I wonder about names and people, Harman hated men, Bernie Madoff certainly made off with a few million, Proudman feels perpetually victimised by men.

    As for the victimisation of Caroline Flack, I expect such automatic knee jerk misandry from the mainstream media whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. And if she had killed her boyfriend the same would have applied, the accusation being that he ‘drove her to it.’

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  3. Callum

    Thank you for bringing the Bridge et al (2017) study to my attention, it is a valuable source.

    I’m sure you’re aware of it but it’s worth mentioning that in the 2017 version of ONS’ yearly domestic abuse publication they extensively use Women’s Aid’s “Femicide Consensus”. Whatever we think of the study, the word “femicide” or the contentious nature of the ONS’ use of this, it does lend itself to strengthening your argument.

    The study takes three years of information on 309 cases of female deaths by male partners. It records outcomes, though only through to conviction, and has the following statement:

    “16% (49 perpetrators) committed suicide either at the time or after the offence, and 11% (32 perpetrators) were detained under the Mental Health Act”

    I’m sure if the study were to check on the health of the men after conviction the suicide rate would be much higher. The CPS and police are also notorious for ignoring mental health in relation to alleged perpetrators, so as to artificially inflate conviction rates, so I’d assume the 11% quoted is probably not a fair reflection on true mental health issues. Also, around 1/3 of these types of homicide are convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter, so mental health issues may make up a percentage of these as a diminished responsibility defence.

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  4. AJ

    Ms Proudman shows a remarkable lack of precision and excitability in her language. Who in their right mind would want her to be their barrister?

    The point about Caroline flack is that there was ample evidence that she had committed a serious assault causing injury. If the CPS was to have a policy that charges were not proceeded with of the victim withdrew their complaint then it would be an invitation to coerce victims on such cases.

    It also seems likely, but an NDA prevents us knowing more, that this was not an isolated incident. She is dead so it is no longer relevant but testimony from her previous partner would have been interesting.

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  5. Richard

    William – it is going to be interesting to see how feminists harvest this incident to secure an advantageous alteration of the law. They’ll wish to exploit the emotional response generated by her popularity as a reality TV personality to argue for additional legal privileges for women. But they will have to do it in a way that somehow avoids undermining the work they have done to strengthen the treatment in law of Domestic Violence. They will undoubtedly argue for enhanced pre-trial privacy laws, although as the current form that I’ve seen do not appear to be gendered this might in fact be a positive development. But another option might be specious guidelines offering judges flexibility to allow for “other factors” when determining sentences for female defendants.

    Proudman’s response is therefore disappointing. A successful prosecution of the defendant in this case represented a substantial financial loss to her agent, who mounted the attack on the Crown Prosecution Service’s “show trial” and argued for it to be dropped. However, it also created the very real moral hazard that the victim might be financially incentivised by the agency to drop the prosecution. The CPS was bound under its guidelines to prosecute under these circumstances. To claim that a prosecution under such clear moral hazard was a “show trial”, if representative of general legal profession’s lack of judgement, reveals considerable opportunity for feminists now.

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  6. Michael McVeigh

    I found it ironic that the Main Stream Media had some sort of a naval gazing exercise regarding the suicide of Flack that they failed to see their part in the whole system – they failed to mention any other single suicide – of anyone.
    Virtue signaling ad infinitum.

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  7. Joseph

    Great piece of analysis. Making a perpetuator of female-male domestic violence into a feminist -victim-heroine is simply part and parcel of the long standing culture war strategy of reframing women as always being victims, in order to gain ever increasing privileges and assets at the expense of men.

    Joseph

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