As you know, we have a decentralised police service, whose Chief Constables have complete autonomy. It's just a remarkable coincidence that the police forces of Derbyshire, Cambridgeshire, Staffordshire ("Injury Time"), Cleveland, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Hertfordshire, Lancashire and for all I know every force in the land are exhorting us to 'show the red card to domestic violence', which apparently is a result of 'increased consumption of alcohol'.
Naturally Amnesty International, fresh from their campaign to establish the univesal human right to kill unborn children, are on the case.
All this can't but remind me of the Super Bowl Myth.
Just three days before the 1993 Super Bowl game, a news conference was called in Pasadena. There Sheila Kuehl, an attorney for the California Women's Law Center, stepped to the podium to report some shocking news: according to a study by Old Dominion University, emergency room admissions of women rose by 40% following football games won by the Washington Redskins.
Media representatives got the warning that Super Bowl Sunday is "the biggest day of the year for violence against women." Soon a media advisory went out warning women, "Don't remain at home with him during the game."
The next morning, Friday January 29, psychologist Lenore Walker appeared on Good Morning America and repeated the same frightening news.
By Saturday, the hysteria had reached a fever pitch. A January 30 Boston Globe article claimed that women's shelter and hotlines are "flooded with more calls from victims than on any other day of the year."
Just before the coin flip for the big game, NBC ran a 30-second spot reminding men that domestic violence is a crime.
Then the Washington Post decided to do a little detective work. Post reporter Ken Ringle called Janet Katz, one of the researchers from Old Dominion University, to verify the claim. "That's not what we found at all," Katz responded. To the contrary, she said any increase in emergency room admissions "was not associated with the occurrence of football games in general."
Ringle's report, "Wife Beating Claims," appeared on the front page of the Washington Post on January 31. This was the upshot of the story: the assertion that watching football games provokes men into a frenzy of wife-beating was actually a hoax.
Within hours, Lenore Walker and the Boston Globe reporter pulled back on their original claims, admitting they hadn't seen the original study. On February 2, the Boston Globe ran a retraction.
UPDATE - that "40% increase" figure, such a feature of the Superbowl fantasy, seems to have taken on the same life of its own as the UK's "one in four" figure (repeated endlessly; based on a dodgy 1993 survey of North London in which "Mooney's definition of violence includes physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse - and each of these categories involves a whole spectrum of behaviour. So under psychological abuse we find 'criticism... jealousy...destroying possessions...and verbal abuse', and - most dramatically of all - 'being forced to do menial and trivial tasks'". Criticism as domestic violence, eh ? Has Ms Mooney ever been in a relationship ? Menial tasks ? I know who cleans the toilets in this house. I digress).
Here are Staffordshire Police, clamping down on domestic violence for Euro 2004.
"Staffordshire Police say they will clamp down on domestic violence fuelled by the Euro 2004 football tournament.
The Pathway Project, the county's only 24-hour helpline for domestic violence victims, reported a surge in calls of almost 40% during the 2002 World Cup."
Note the BBC's use of the "one in four" statistic, on a photo helpfully captioned (move the cursor over it) "Photo staged by actors. Shows: man pushing woman".
Alas the project doesn't seem to have worked. Here's the BBCs 2006 story.
"Violent abusers are to be under extra police scrutiny during the World Cup by a Midlands force. Staffordshire officers are predicting a rise in domestic violence, especially around England's matches, and they will be targeting known offenders.
Posters with the slogan "Now we're into injury time" will promote the campaign.
Assistant Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said during Euro 2004 there had been a 40% increase in cases of domestic violence."
More on a different "one in four" at Spiked.