In the Media

Police accused of overlooking a “pattern of violence against women” by describing the Epsom College deaths as an “isolated incident”

Here’s why people are angry with police over Epsom College shooting
Campaigners have said police’s choice of wording risks underming the “epidemic” of violence against women and girls.


Domestic abuse campaigners have accused police of overlooking a “pattern of violence against women” by describing the Epsom College shooting as an “isolated incident”.

Emma Pattison, 45, was found dead with her husband, George Pattison, 39, and their seven-year-old daughter Lettie at their home in the grounds of Epsom College in Surrey on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Surrey Police said the deaths at the prestigious boarding school were being investigated as a possible murder-suicide. It has been reported in multiple outlets that Mr Pattison killed his family before turning his shotgun on himself, although this has yet to be confirmed by police.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident on Sunday morning, Surrey Police described the killings as an “isolated incident”. The language used has provoked criticism from campaigners.

“There is nothing ‘isolated’ about a man murdering his wife and family,” British-American lawyer Dr Ann Olivarius KC told Yahoo News UK.

“A family murder doesn’t come out of nowhere and violent men don’t suddenly ‘snap’.”

The lawyer said that the police “of all institutions” should know that “male violence in the family is predictable, widespread and yes, dangerous to the public at large too”.

“The men who commit public acts of terror almost always have a back history of domestic violence. When the police doesn’t understand domestic violence, we are all less safe for it,” she added.