Letter to the Home Secretary

In one of my Criminology modules, we were asked to write a letter to the UK Home Secretary (The Hon. Priti Patel MP). This was only an exercise with no suggestion that we should actually send it, however, with recent developments and the upheaval in the Conservative government, as they attempt to choose a new Prime Minister, several subjects have been at the forefront of the somewhat ugly fight between the two people battling for Number Ten (Lizz Truss and Rishi Sunak). Women’s rights and the suggested opposing trans rights issue has been thrust centre stage. However, whatever side of the argument people are sitting on, one thing that was highlighted was the poor service that women receive when entering the criminal justice system and how not much has changed towards female victims of crime when they report a sexual assault or rape, and the way that the adversarial court system appears to re-victimise women reporting serious sexual offences. This is one reason that the rape conviction rate is so low, in percentage terms, as many victims withdraw from the process for fear of opening fresh wounds while giving evidence in Court, leaving them open to cross examination by lawyers and in some cases, by the alleged perpetrator.


‘There are serious problems with the way that some victims are treated within the criminal justice system, pointing to deep seated inequalities. Write a letter to the Home Secretary making an argument in support of this statement.

Rt. Hon. Priti Patel MP,

H.M. Home Secretary,

2 Marsham Place,



2nd February 2022.

Dear Madam Home Secretary,

I write to you as a retired police officer, a criminology student and someone with recognised expertise dealing with offences against the person, particularly perpetrated against women.

I was disturbed to see the results of a combined four year enquiry into misconduct at a Metropolitan police station, by the Office of Police Conduct, and the recommendations made therein (BBC, 2022).  The article mentioned that you were ‘sickened’ by its contents. I hope that will direct you to address the inequality borne by victims of crime and their treatment within the criminal justice system (CJS).  Below, I identify how certain social groups are treated, dependent upon their social and economic status and how they are labelled by the authorities. I will signpost the theory of victimology, a sub-set of criminology, the inclusion of crime survey statistics, and their usefulness and/or limitations when determining policy, the inhumane way that the system still treats rape and sexual assault victims, the inconsistencies of aftercare determined by codes of practice, hopefully soon to be addressed by the new Victims Law (Tapper, 2020), and how community justice may assist in freeing up court space for more serious offences.

Society is not equal; one per cent of the richest people in the United Kingdom own twenty-five per cent of the country’s wealth. Powerful groups and organisations, including the criminal justice system, determine what laws are passed and our place in society is often decided by our gender, ethnicity, nationality and socioeconomic status. The mainstream media also have a part to play in how the public perceive certain demographics, which they often magnify in an attempt to denigrate certain areas of society (Rowe, 2021). These organisations apply labels to different groups thus have the ability to define our behaviour and determine whether they consider it deviant and illegal. Unlike the outdated individual positivist theories of  Lombroso (1876) cited in Westmarland (2018) we are not pre-disposed to commit crime based on genetic and physical traits. If we are to accept what the state determines is criminal behaviour, based on its definition of society’s values, those that are perceived as more vulnerable, including ethnic minorities from deprived working class areas are more likely to be treated as deviants and criminals by those in power, creating this judicial imbalance which needs to be addressed (Dimou, 2021).

Madam Home Secretary; I am particularly disturbed at how the criminal justice system still treats certain victims of crime, namely women.  Prior to the 1960s, women were often treated as chattels and largely forgotten when legal policies were being shaped and implemented. In the sixties, the criminological theory of victimology emerged. According to Walklate (2016) cited in Bows (2018,p.49), this was an attempt to redress the balance and identify and focus on victims of crime, putting them at the centre of criminological process. Key theories within victimology however, identify where I believe the state is going wrong. In Dimou (2021) three sub-sets of victimology were identified; radical, critical and positivist. While the first two believe that state exploitation and oppression, by those in power, create victims, driven by a lack of equality, leading to a lack of support (radical), and the belief that powerful groups, including the CJS, through the state, have the power to determine who is a victim and who is not worthy of that designation (critical), it is my opinion that the CJS still apply positivist victimology, by deciding who is a ‘real victim’, determined by whether it is believed that the victim has somehow contributed to their own victimhood.

When I joined the police force in 1982, it coincided with the production of the first ever results of the Crime Survey for England and Wales, created a year earlier. With a current annual sample size of  35,000, the survey attempts to identify the level of crime as well as highlighting targeted offences, such as domestic violence and sexual offences, often under reported and considered a ‘dark figure of crime’ (Bows, 2018, p.50). I believe that this is often due to the victim withdrawing their engagement in the legal process or the fear of being re-victimised in court, thus adding secondary victimisation to their primary status (Sellin & Wolfgang, 1964) cited in Bows (2018,p.53). The authorities need to alter the way that victims are viewed, regardless of their background and socioeconomic status, especially when it comes to dealing with sexual and domestic violence. A person has more of a chance of being victimised by the perpetrator and the state if they are categorised as being in the lower age range (16-24), female and/or disabled, from black and minority ethnic backgrounds and unemployed from deprived geographical habitats, according to the Office of National Statistics (Bows, 2018, p.59).

Nearly thirty years ago, the state reformed some offences against the person, to include rape within marriage and rape of a man. As we emerged from the 1980s, your predecessors at the Home Office attempted to implement training updates for police officers dealing with sexual offence victims and re-iterated that United Kingdom police forces should never ‘no crime’ an alleged rape, unless discovered to be a false complaint. Some recent additions should be applauded however; specifically the employment of more female officers and creation of sexual assault referral centres (S.A.R.C.s), humane surroundings within which to report such crimes and collect evidence without pressure to proceed to trial (Kelly, 2000).  Unfortunately, as has emerged with the current Metropolitan police misconduct enquiry, it appears that misogynistic and sexist attitudes towards women, by a certain section of the police service (BBC, 2022) and the legal profession, still remain, where outdated ‘rape myths’ are still perpetuated; blaming the victim by magnifying their clothing,  drunkenness, behaviour and previous sexual history (Bows, 2018, p.65).

I noted that in 2013, this government enacted a ‘codes of practice for victims of crime’ and a year later expressed a wish to collate the views across the legal system on an annual basis (C.J.J.I., 2015). This  was meant to collate information from the whole country in relation to availability and quality of services for victims of crime. While part of the 2015 report praised some elements of victim support, there were many inconsistencies and unacceptable service provision in many areas, often due to the lack of funding from councils and other local authorities. Police forces failed to record certain crimes, thus leaving victims without signposted support. In relation to sexual offences and domestic violence, victims recorded their dismay at the lack of empathy from many areas of the criminal justice system, especially the ‘first contact’, police officers. Information passed to first response officers was incomplete, failing to identify repeat offenders / victims. Domestic abuse victims were not believed or ‘no crimed’ and those suffering mental health episodes were often incarcerated, because of a lack of clinical support. It appears that the most vulnerable, those in socioeconomically deprived areas with low job prospects, from broken families or raised in care are the ones with the most limited or no access to assistance, if it is there at all.

One of the ways that victims feel let down by the CJS is the lack of communication during their ordeal and the backlog of court cases which inevitably draws their anxiety and suffering to an unacceptable level to which many seek to withdraw from the process. Perhaps some of the lesser court cases that help create court blockage could be deferred to a system of community justice. Christie (1977) cited in Irwin-Rogers (2018, p.84) stated that often people are labelled with a criminal record on minor crimes that could be suitably dealt with by community courts that aim to rehabilitate offenders, appease victims and attempt to allow offenders to remain part of the community, not ostracised by it. This would assist with the swifter delivery of justice for the more serious offences in Court and alleviate some of the victim’s anxiety during the legal process, allowing access to victim support more quickly. Karp and Clear (2000) cited in Irwin-Rogers (2018, p.85) stated that any community justice should run on both democratic and egalitarian principles in that the whole community should have a stake in the process and outcome while also dealing with socioeconomic inequality.

In conclusion, there are serious issues with victim treatment within the justice system which is unequal and stressful. With the proposed ‘victims law’ presented to Parliament last year, it is hoped for a speedy process to become Law. In 2019 nearly a quarter of cases were dropped due to victims withdrawing; half of those who proceeded to Court would not do so again because of their experience. (Tapper, 2020). Inequality requires levelling up. There is too much power in too few hands, which often targets the poorest socioeconomic areas and people. Victims services need to be provided and monitored in deprived areas which, according to the C.J.J.I. (2015) is not consistent. The police service requires more regular training when engaging with victims of sexual crime and the misogynistic attitudes have to be eradicated. Finally the crime surveys must include under sixteens and those who live in care to portray an accurate crime victim figure.

Yours faithfully,

Róisín Pitman (Miss)


BBC (2022) ‘Met Police: misogyny, racism, bullying, sex harassment discovered’ [Online] British Broadcasting Corporation, UK. Available at


(Accessed 2 Feb 2022)

Bows, H. (2018), ‘Victims and Victimisation’ in Cooper, V. and Phoenix, J. (eds)

Criminological theories and concepts 2, Milton Keynes, The Open University,


Criminal Justice Joint Inspection – C.J.J.I. (2015) ‘Meeting the needs of victims in the criminal justice system: A consolidated report by the criminal justice inspectorates’ pp.1–14. [Online]. Available at: https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/ cjji/ wp-content/ uploads/ sites/ 2/ 2015/ 12/ meeting-the-needs-of-victims-in-the-criminal-justice-system.pdf

(Accessed 2 Feb 2022)

Dimou, E. (2021), ‘Victimology and victimisation’, [Online] DD212 Criminological

theories and concepts. Week 12; Section 2.1. Available at

(Accessed 2 Feb 2022)

Irwin-Rogers, K. (2018), ‘Community justice’ in Cooper, V. and Phoenix, J. (eds)

Criminological theories and concepts 2, Milton Keynes, the Open University,


Kelly, L (2000) ‘A War of Attrition: Recent Research on Rape’, in Trouble and Strife [Online] Issue 40, Winter 1999/2000. Available at: http://www.trouble.myzen.co.uk/ ?page_id=207

(Accessed 2 Feb 2022)

Rowe, A. (2021) ‘Power and inequality animation’ [Online] DD212 Criminological theories and concepts. Week 11, Introduction to block 3. Available at


(Accessed 2 Feb 2022)

Tapper, J (2020), ‘Call for new law to protect victims in the justice system’ [Online] The Guardian, London. Available at


(Accessed 2 Feb 2022)

Westmarland, L. (2018), ‘Crime and the individual’ in Cooper, V. and Phoenix, J.

(eds) Criminological theories and concepts 1, Milton Keynes, The Open University,




At the head of each new blog post, you will see the ZEN logo with the relevant area of interest that the blog post has been written about.

Subject headings will be drawn from the following:







A fair trial ? Do we get one?

Are the cards stacked against us, or are we orchestrators of our own demise?


   (picture: Royal Courts of Justice, London)

 by Róisín Pitman                                                                                                                                                                               Criminology & Psychology undergraduate

Expectations, as a defendant, and what sometimes transpires, is often at odds with a ‘fair trial’. The rule of law requires the Courts to be seen to be fair and, having heard evidence from the prosecution and defence, a jury should make a fair and unbiased decision on the evidence presented (Mehigan, 2019, p.52).

In many cases, lies, omissions, misdirection’s and decisions made by state institutions, such as the police and criminal justice system (CJS) may suggest we do not always have the fair trial we deserve.


Exploring ALL the evidence

A Court trial should expect that the judge and jury remain impartial and both prosecution and defence evidence be heard. The process is there to test ALL evidence presented (Mehigan, 2019, p.55).

What happens when it is flawed?

We look at two cases where a fair trial was unlikely to happen, due to either a flawed process (Liam Allan; falsely accused of rape) or a defendant’s own actions (Judith Ward; falsely confessing to be an IRA bomber).


The case of Liam Allan – falsely accused of rape  

Days before twenty-two-year-old Liam Allan stood trial for rape, it was discovered that only a small portion of text messages between him and the ‘victim’ had been entered into evidence, in such a way that it fully, and with bias, supported the prosecution’s decision to proceed with the case (Osborne, 2018).

However, a full disclosure of the entire text exchange showed that the sex was consensual, and it was only later that the ‘victim’ decided to report the ‘rape’. The case was thrown out.

A later enquiry suggested that there had been no deliberate wrong-doing by the police or the CJS. This DID however, lead to the Metropolitan Police reviewing decisions on six hundred rape cases.


False confessions and fantasists

What if the defendant, courting notoriety, admits to a crime they did not commit?

Judith Ward was a mentally unstable fantasist with no Irish connections or IRA affiliations, as she had intimated. She admitted to several UK mainland bombings in the 1970’s, including the M62 coach bombing, in 1974, which killed eleven, mostly military, personnel (Campbell, 1991), even though the IRA denied that she was guilty or even known to them.

Ward faced oppressive police interviews, repeatedly moved locations and was sleep deprived before she capitulated and signed a false confession (May, 2017). She was actually one hundred and fifty miles away at the time of the motorway bombing.

The Court accepted her false confession and imprisoned her. She was finally released in 1992.


As technology improves, does this mean that we will get less miscarriages of justice?

The courts are experiencing problems understanding new methods and are struggling with the speed and complexity of technological change (Mehigan, 2019, p.70).

With the current reduction in funding to legal services in the UK, it is more likely that there will be further miscarriages of justice where previously a fair trial was the least that you were entitled to.



Campbell, D. (1991) ‘IRA groupie jailed for coach bomb, sought folklore fame’, ‘Guardian’, 22 March [Online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2009/apr/30/ira-coach-bomb (Accessed 14 March 2020).

May, P. (2017) ‘Buried alive: the case of Judy Ward 25 years on’, ‘The Justice Gap’, 11 May [Blog]. Available at https://www.thejusticegap.com/buried-alive-case-judy-ward-25-years/ (Accessed 14 March 2020).

Mehigan, J. (2019) ‘The prosecution on trial’ in Downes, J., Kent, G., Mooney, G., Nightingale, A. and Scott, D. (eds) ‘Introduction to Criminology 2’, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp.51-74.

Osborne, S. (2018) ‘Liam Allan: Met Police apologise to 22-year-old man falsely accused of rape after failing to disclose crucial text messages’, ‘Independent’, 30 January [Online]. Available at https://www.independant.co.uk/news/uk/crime/liam-allan-met-police-rape-accusation-false-evidence-disclosure-arrest-mistake-detectives-a8184916.html. (Accessed 14 March 2020).









Personal Protection & Awareness should be included as part of any Wellbeing Strategy !

Firstly; a quick apology. The Urban Warrior Princess has been a bit pre-occupied of late and I have been neglectful of my blog while concentrating on my first and second module of a university degree course at the tender age of fifty-seven.  Under the watchful and helpful eye of the Open University, I have signed up for a BA (Hons) in Criminology and Psychology. It has taken me a good eight months to get used to the study regime and the ability to time manage my workload.  So now let’s get down to the subject matter of this post;


Everywhere you look, there are references, adverts and people promoting health, fitness and wellness strategies. Whether it is on mainstream television, online, celebrity fitness personalities, public and private gyms – you cannot fail to have been aware of the promotion of fit and healthy lifestyles.

Obesity is now more commonplace in the British Isles than ever before and the diet industry is a multi-billion pound behemoth. That industry relies on a person using a particular weight loss formula for a limited period of time in which to lose a set amount of weight before they stop – hail their fantastic new weight loss and……..then  return to old eating habits that were the cause of their weight problem to start with. It is a vicious cycle and I have known many people who have tried many different diet regimes over the years and they yo-yo; they lose weight – they gain weight – they lose weight – they gain etc etc. This is what keeps the diet industry healthy but the rest of us, unhealthy. What is needed is not a diet but a


Don’t be a slave to food and the diet industry; change your mindset and change your relationship with food. Take regular exercise and, as well as nourishing the body properly, you need to regularly nourish the mind.



A good healthy food intake does not have to be bland and boring but you should seek to take into your body the right nutrients and food choices that will better suit both your metabolism and the goals that you are setting for yourself. Once you have chosen a good food regime, don’t do it over a limited period of time; keep to it.  Some faddy diets aim to cut out certain food groups entirely, but this can be detrimental to your body in the long term. Totally cutting out carbohydrates, for example, as some diets claim, is actually impossible as there are carbs in all foods in varying percentages. You need a good balance of fats, protein and carbohydrates for your body to work to its optimum level. You also need to remember to hydrate your body throughout each and every day; taking in at least two litres of water a day is the recommended amount by many Doctors but it can vary. I personally drink three litres a day and only two cups of coffee. But I am not here specifically to talk about food; that is not my area of specialisation, which I will come to shortly.


Regular exercise is also a priority. Not everyone is a sports and fitness fanatic but you do not have to be. Regular exercise can mean anything physical three to four times a week, such as walking, jogging; even walking the dog gets you out into the fresh air and less obviously out in to the world with other people. Do not isolate yourselves*

*Please note that the above was written before the Covid-19 virus struck the world and currently I would urge you all to follow the guidelines given by health professionals about self isolating and social distancing.

Wellbeing appears to be the buzzword for health at the moment. Many people go to a Doctor to check their weight, blood pressure, health and other related issues, but there are places out there now, that offer these services as part of an overall wellbeing, health and fitness package. I personally tend to only go to my General Practitioner when I have a medical symptom or clinical problem that needs to be identified and treated. If I want to have a general body M.O.T. and maintenance regime, I will go to my gym and wellbeing centre.


Now to my own area of specialisation;


I have been in love with fitness and sport from a very early age and was extremely lucky to attend schools that positively promoted a myriad of sports and fitness opportunities. This continued after I left education and entered the work place.

In February this year, I will have been studying the Japanese martial art of Aikido for forty years. I have been a teacher for thirty-three of them.  I  was a police officer for over a decade and alongside Aikido, I teach Control and Restraint for Police Officers, Conflict Management and Physical Intervention in the Security Industry, Self Defence and Self Protection and Awareness for Women and Vulnerable Adults and training for door security supervisors (UK and Jersey).

My belief is that, if any gym and wellbeing centre wants to have the overall wellbeing package; the complete formula, they should consider a self protection and awareness offering.

This offering could be in the shape of regular seminars on various self protection and awareness subjects, an integrated self defence/fitness class module, dedicated and strategically placed short or longer self defence classes (eg. six, eight or ten week slots) or a combination of all of the above.



Your home is still your Castle

A Look at ‘strangers at your door’


The majority of people who knock on your door or ring the bell are genuine, bona fide individuals who are there for any number of  legitimate reasons, from family members visiting a relative to delivery operatives like post office workers and courier companies, religious groups, door-to-door sales people, officials from Government  and Parish departments etc. They all have a genuinely held belief that they are at your door for a specific and legal enterprise.

However, there are also unscrupulous individuals and groups that sometimes target premises for nefarious aims, such a burglary, theft and assault (both criminal and/or sexual). These peoples’ aim is to attempt to gain entry by using pursuasive engagement and a well rehearsed story to gain your confidence enough so that you will happily grant them entry. These individuals are generally known as ‘confidence tricksters’, who uses a seemingly genuine sounding story to gain access to you and your belongings.

Regularly used identities have been that they are from the electricity company, water board, local council, telephone engineer, social services, housing department etc.; the list and made up stories are endless. And some people  are excellent at convincing you that they are the genuine person, even producing fake letters with officially looking letter heads, fake identity cards and signage on vehicles.

If a person turns up at your door claiming to be from a utilities company, often these are visits that happen on a regular basis and the representative is known to them. They used to expect the electric meter reader, or the water meter guy to come at set times of the year or the daily post man delivery. Often, if a resident is elderly, this can be the only human contact that many have.

Below are a few tips if you are unsure as to who is coming to your door:


  • Prior to opening your door, put the safety chain on (if you do not have a safety chain fitted, I would recommend that you do so). 
  • For an extra level of security one could have a spy hole fitted which allows you to view a wide angle of who is at your door. There are now door bells on the market that allow you to view, record and speak to the person on your mobile device without having to open the door.
  • Ask the person to identify themselves. If they are genuine, they will have no problem complying with this request. Ask for an official identity card. If they produce a business card, this is not an identity card as they normally do not carry a photograph of the holder but, it does give you an opportunity to contact the person’s place of work to see if they have sent out someone to see you. Even if they give you an identity card, they will not be fazed by you ringing their workplace to check. DO NOT let them in unless you are satisfied that they are genuine. Err on the side of caution.
  • An ‘official-looking letter’, on its own, is not proof of identity. Anybody can mock up this type of document in minutes on a home computer.
  • Prior to letting someone in, ask them to state clearly and in easy to understand language, what they are at your premises to do. If they are too vague or have no specific task, do not let them in.
  • If you are unsure of anything, contact a friend or family member who can either come down straight away or at a later time and arrange with the person at the door to come back when you have company.
  • Sometimes, people who would gain entry to your house, to steal or worse, may have been watching yours and/or other peoples’ houses for a while so that they can select likely targets. Unfortunately this seems to be narrowed down to the elderly and vulnerable and people living on their own, sometimes at isolated addresses.
  • If in doubt, do not let them in and call the Police.

I have noticed, as technology improves, that some of the traditional utilities companies no longer need to physically gain entry to premises to read meters and check gauges. This can all be done via interactive technology where meters are read remotely by computers. No need to leave the office.

Finally, for now, and something that has come to Jersey in the recent past, that has been prevalent for years on the British mainland; DODGY BUILDERS.


There is a regular occurrence in the UK whereby an alleged ‘Builder’ would turn up at your door unannounced and tell you that, while driving past your house, they had noticed that you have problems on your roof, guttering, exterior facade, chimney etc., it could be anything. If you do not know much about building construction, it would be very easy for someone to invent a plausible story to try and convince you that work needed to be done and that it was fortunate that they were passing.

These persons invariably will give you an on-the-spot quote, normally vastly inflated and state that the problem, if there ever was one in the first place, was a lot bigger that they first thought. The price would then steadily increase to sometimes eye-watering proportions, but many vulnerable and elderly people will go along with this. These con-artists are normally extremely convincing. It has been known for these people to drive the householder to a cash point or several cash points to draw out money which they always, “need up front’. They then milk the situation for as long as they are able and regularly leave the house in a worse state than they found it before disappearing without trace and move on to their next victim.

This is not a dig at genuine builders, whether small works companies or larger contractors who in most cases are genuine Company’s, fully insured and experts in their trade. This is about the chancer in a van, with their eye to a quick scam, with enough general knowledge to sound plausible, whose sole intention is to rip people off and disappear without trace. If in doubt say no and call the Police to check.

In Jersey, we are seeing more and more UK registered ‘works’ vans on the island’s roads. Many are genuine and here for a lawful purposes who, if required, have obtained the relevant licenses to operate but, there are still some who have slipped the net at the Port of entry and are here to make a quick buck before disappearing from our shores back to the mainland.



Self Defence; Does it really do what it says on the tin?



In every town and city in Britain, there are people attending public classes, courses and seminars on the subject of self-defence. These can include self-defence for woman, the elderly, vulnerable, the disabled or just the population at large.


One source of self-defence classes are the ‘martial arts clubs’, a group of people practising the fundamentals of a usually oriental fighting style, originating from different systems, from countries such as India, China, Japan, Korea etc.

Martial arts traditionally runs on a hierarchical basis whereby, in the past, the most experienced, skilled and highest graded person, usually a black belt, would be considered the leader of the club or school. In Japanese terminology, this person would be called “sensei” (in Japanese culture; different names in other countries), more commonly translated as “person born before another” or “one who comes before”. It does not specifically mean “teacher” but by the inference of being older and more experienced, it related to someone with more knowledge and developed skill than a newer student.  Of course now, due to international development and the spread of martial arts training to the majority of countries around the globe, a “sensei” is not necessarily older in age, but will most likely be experienced and skilled enough to pass on the philosophy and techniques of a martial art to those, of whatever age, who wish to learn, and there are many reasons why people wish to take up a martial art. Those can be:

  • For health and fitness
  • To learn a competitive sport (not all martial arts hold competitions)
  • To learn self-defence
  • To provide social interaction, forming friendships
  • To learn a new skill
  • For mental health development
  • To understand body mechanics and learn more about your body’s capabilities

The list is varied but not exhaustive.

Martial arts styles are a way of teaching the fundamentals of forms of combat in times when a human had to regularly fight for their very existence. In modern times many styles have been ‘watered down’ to fit in with current laws, sensibilities and ways of life as well as in the development of sport and social interaction. That doesn’t mean that martial arts are ineffective; far from it. A potential student has a vast choice of martial styles and invariably they choose one that suits their requirements. Some join to learn to fight and defend themselves; some for competition; others for tradition or for fitness of mind and body and many for a combination of reasons., but!

Is it self-defence?


I always say that martial arts and self-defence are on the same spectrum but are different animals. Martial arts deal with passing on knowledge, and training in a system that originated from traditional fighting styles mainly from the Orient. Over the years, while some of the traditional, often feudal fighting styles, have remained true to their origins, many are  diluted and there are newer styles that have emerged but, since we mostly have the same limbs and body parts, these are often based on more ancient styles of combat, going back many centuries. Some may claim that they have devised a new martial art, but I can guarantee that it will have been drawn from an already established style or combination of styles. This is how martial arts evolve.

I have attended, sometimes as a guest instructor,  various martial arts clubs in Britain and Europe over the last thirty-five years who have organised a ‘self-defence’ course, often aimed at women and more likely than not, after a particular event has become prominent in the news eg. the rape or sexual assault/s in the locality, an increase of reported domestic violence incidents, national or international news coverage etc. therefore, is the specific course aiming to draw in people who feel vulnerable because of what is reported in the media, or does it aim to amplify irrational fears and insecurities among a particular demographic in order to gain higher course participation? 

There are, of course, many reasons why a particular section of society would want to undertake a ‘self-defence’ course; to learn something new, hone some skills already learnt, increase their knowledge of a wide and diverse subject, to feel better equipped, help build confidence and self esteem; the list is endless.

Sometimes I used to see adverts that, while attempting to draw in women to participate, they would add the promise that after a short period of time, six, eight, ten weeks maybe, after completing a course, they would be “confident enough to defend themselves in any real-life scenario.”

Sorry to burst that bubble but that is not an endorsement anybody should offer or can back up, theoretically or practically. Nobody knows how they will react to a particular fear induced and stressful verbal and/or physical altercation. Training to any level does not include dealing with the one thing that you can never reproduce in any training environment, the FEAR FACTOR.

What you have in a training environment at best, is more knowledge than you had before, which might be useful in helping you to defend yourself from an assault, attack, abduction etc. but there can be NO GUARANTEES that you will be able to remember, let alone implement, techniques and drills that you have learned on a short course, which can often be taught by people who have little or no understanding of REAL violence.

A high ranking martial artist does not necessarily understand raw violence if they have never worked in that environment or been exposed to it personally. Many of the techniques that I have seen, both in real time and online, use totally fictitious and unlikely scenarios and even more dubious ways to defend against those fantasy attacks. Teaching these to small groups is bad enough, but sharing them on a worldwide online platform, such as You Tube, will draw people in and give them a false sense of security.

There are groups out there who claim to have the ability to reproduce the ‘fear factor’ to a training environment but,what they are actually doing, is putting people under a severe level of ‘stress’ by overwhelming them emotionally with shouting, posturing and screaming profanities, while subjecting them to physical pressure by unleashing one or more ‘attackers’, who are often wearing full rubber protective suit/s. Stressful? Yes; Real Fear? ABSOLUTELY NOT. The ‘victim’ knows it is not real regardless of what type of spin is put on it.

While certain levels of stress do trigger the release of the hormone adrenaline, causing a number of recognisable symptoms (eg. heart rate increase, shortness of breath, mind going blank, being given no time to think etc.), the participants still know that the attack is not REAL and for many reasons, none more so than the health and safety of participants and having to adhere to a legitimate insurance policy, plus the fact that an instructor should know when to step in and terminate the exercise, if it looks like the ‘victim’ is being overwhelmed, this does not constitute real life and is a different feeling than that of RAW FEAR, where you do not have people guiding you or stopping the attack if it starts to go wrong. Feeling real fear is the way for the body to release adrenaline to aid a ‘fight or flight’ physical response. It is a different feeling to a controlled and stressful exercise, which can be anything from running away, through brain freeze, to fighting like a demon. Nobody can predict how anyone will respond.

There is one thing that I can assure you of; that until you have experienced real, unadulterated, terrifying fear, you will never know what it feels like, no matter how much training that you undertake. If a person ever tells you that they do not, nor ever have felt fear in a real violent attack (physical assaults are rare, so do not believe that there is a ‘ninja’ around every corner), they are lying or, they had their bodies anaesthetised with drink and/or drugs at the time and their feelings were somewhat scrambled and inhibitions lowered.




PART 2 – Self defence is 10% physical, 90% AWARENESS.













‘Drink Spiking’ – Reality or Urban Myth?


To ‘spike’ a drink means to put alcohol or drugs into someone’s drink, without their knowledge or permission.

Drink spiking is illegal, whatever the intent. This means that slipping alcohol or drugs into a friend’s drink, as a joke, is against the Law. People who spike drinks can be charged with an offence, fined or jailed.

The original offence in Law in the UK can be found in the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, Article 24 in that,

Maliciously administering poison with intent to injure, aggrieve, or annoy any other person.

Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously administer to or cause to be administered to or taken by any other person any poison or other destructive or noxious thing, with intent to injure, aggrieve, or annoy such person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable to be kept in penal servitude.”


Every Friday and Saturday night, people gather in the pubs and nightclubs of Jersey, to relax and enjoy themselves at the end of the working week. Depending on where you go, the premises can often be a tightly packed mass of bodies with very little room to move, with music, either canned or live, played at a decibel level that can make it difficult to communicate verbally.

People are there to enjoy themselves and relax but, in such circumstances, it gives those with nefarious intentions more chance to work undetected. This can include dealing illicit drugs or the ‘spectre in the room’, the possibility of slipping a substance into a person’s drink in the hope that they may be able to take advantage of that person later on. This is called ‘drink spiking’ and is often talked about but not taken too seriously by many people, who believe that while this kind of activity might happen regularly in big cities in the UK, surely it is a rarity in Jersey.

It can be very difficult to know the difference sometimes, between drink spiking and consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol, as some of the symptoms are identical, but there ARE marked differences.

When I was a serving police officer, Jersey had a case where a young lady believed that she had her drink spiked in a local nightclub and remembered fragmented bits from the night before, but large parts of her memory were blank. She was found wandering the inner streets of St. Helier town centre, partially clothed and disheveled. When questioned, she had some recollection of events and remembered someone having sex with her but not being able to move or cry out, even though she tried. She described herself feeling like she was paralysed but, at the same time, aware of what was happening. As a result of this complaint, several young men were charged with rape and other sexual assaults.

In September 2005, in a front page article in the Jersey Evening Post, a young lady alleged that her drink had been spiked in a St. Helier nightclub on the Friday night of a Bank Holiday weekend. In the article she criticised the Police for failing to take her complaint seriously.

It is alleged that she suddenly collapsed on the dance floor, while dancing with friends, and immediately became incoherent. This was said to be totally out of character. Once her friends had taken her home, the Police were called.

Samples were taken at the Police Station but there was a delay getting them tested (the report does not say what samples were taken; ie whether they were urine and/or blood) and they were sent to the States Analyst on the following Tuesday due to the Bank Holiday. Later, the Police stated that incidents involving ‘drink spiking’ were rare and that the huge majority of alleged incidents ended up being alcohol related. However, a set of circumstances meant that the samples were not tested until several days later.

This year in the United Kingdom, incidents of drink spiking has more than doubled in the last three years, according to figures from participating UK Police Forces, made public after a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. The results showed a 108% increase since 2015.

In total, there were 992 cases reported by forces who responded to the FOI request. Add that figure to the majority of people who did not report an incident and the problem appears to be growing fast.


The following is a list of the most commonly used ‘noxious liquids or substances’ used in ‘drink spiking’. It is not an exhaustive list but highlights those known to be used more frequently.

Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB)

The effects on a person are similar to Ecstasy (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) and comes in powder or liquid form. The effects take between 10 and 20 minutes. It is a dangerous on its own but more so when mixed with alcohol.

The effects include the inability to speak coherently, a lack of coordination, sleepiness over prolonged periods for days afterwards, amnesia, hallucinations and sometimes short term comas.

Ketamine (K, Ket)

This is a drug used by veterinary surgeons as an anaesthetic for larger animals like horses and cattle but is also used by people as an illicit substance. The effects of taking Ketamine (K, Ket) can create an out-of-body experience and comes in liquid or powder form. People also suffer from boredom, nausea, confusion, amnesia and visual problems. It takes between five and twenty minutes to work.

Rohypnol (Roofies)

This is found, most often in pill form. It is a depressant similar to Valium but more potent. Effects include slurred speech, lack of concentration, poor coordination, dizziness, lack of inhibition, nausea and amnesia. It takes between fifteen and thirty minutes to take effect.


Some people might be wondering why alcohol has been included? However, if administering alcohol to another person’s drink was done with intent to incapacitate them (even if done as a joke), this is also known as ‘spiking’ a drink. The person imbibing, may believe that they are either drinking a soft drink or a single shot of alcohol. Any alcohol added to a drink without the owner’s knowledge or permission could be seen as ‘administering a noxious thing’ and the person administering it could be liable to prosecution.

List of Additional Drugs used in Spiking can include:

Benzodiazepines; Cocaine; Midazolam; Ethanol; Tamazepam; Hypnotics; Ecstasy; Burunganda; LSD; Methamphetamine; Barbiturates; Valium and Alcohol.

Effects of the drugs vary dependent on a person’s age, sex, size and on what type of drug or alcoholic beverage was given, as well as how much you have already consumed. These drugs are often colourless and odourless.



  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers. However, if you do, make sure that you observe the bar person pour the drink and then watch it until it is in your hand. It is not advisable to allow a stranger to go to the bar, out of your sight line, and return with the drink when you have no knowledge of whether it has been tampered with or not. It only takes a second to drop something into the drink.
  • If you take a drink and start to feel unwell between five and twenty minutes afterwards and you know that it was either your first drink, or that you have not drank enough to feel the normal effects of alcohol, seek out a friend or someone you can trust to help you. Failing that, speak to the Manager, bar staff or door security personnel.
  • Do not leave you drinks unattended at any time. If you are at a table with friends and you have to leave to go to the bathroom, make sure that there is a trusted friend who remains at the table.
  • Do not accept an unsolicited drink from a stranger, who may just appear at your location with drink in hand. You do not know the drink’s provenance.
  • If you go to the bathroom and there is nobody that you trust to look after your glass; take the drink with you to the bathroom. Don’t let it out of your sight.
  • Do not mix alcohol knowingly with illicit drugs; it is not advisable to take any illicit drug with alcohol as the effects may change dramatically from those symptoms where either alcohol or drugs are taken in isolation.


The following information has been taken from the web page of the Jersey Action Against Rape (J.A.A.R.) with kind permission of the Charity management. 

If the worst happens, and you are sexually assaulted and/or raped, there is a Jersey Charity that offers advice and support to the victims of such an assault. Below, I have reproduced the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page.




I have just been sexually assault; What do I do ?

  • Try to be somewhere that feels safe.
  • Keep warm and drink plenty of fluids (not alcohol).
  • If possible, see if a friend or someone you trust can be with you.
  • If you want to report the assault, contact the police, so they can arrange a forensic examination as soon as possible.
  • They will want to get as much evidence as possible, so don’t wash, eat or drink (alcohol).
  • If you think you would like to report the incident to the police, you can contact the police directly (999; 112 or 612612 if in Jersey) or phone the J.A.A.R. Helpline (01534-482800).
  • Have any injuries treated by your doctor or at a hospital.
  • If you change your clothes, put them in a bag and give them to the police.
  • Tell the police if you think you may have been drugged or your drink ‘spiked’. They will arrange for blood and urine tests.
  • You might not feel like reporting now, but you might in time. So, keep the clothes that you were wearing at the time of the assault, don’t wash them and put them in a plastic bag.
  • If you wash yourself, use safe products, not household cleaning products as they can be harmful.
  • If there is a possibility of pregnancy, you may want to take the morning after pill (up to 72 hours after), or have a coil fitted (up to 5 days after).
  • You can buy emergency contraception at a pharmacy.
  • Or you can go to your family planning clinic, genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic or GP.
  • If you are worried about sexually transmitted infections, you can have fully confidential advice and treatment from your nearest GUM clinic. You do not need a letter from your doctor. You don’t have to give the clinic your real name.

What is Rape ?

Rape is forcing another person to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse. This happens in many different situations. Here are definitions of the different types of rape.

Domestic rape

This is where the crime is committed in a relationship. They could be a family member, a partner or an ex-partner.

Date/Acquaintance rape

This is where the victim and offender are known to each other, they may be a friend or an acquaintance. It is possible that they are known to each other in a non-intimate capacity, through things like dating or meeting that night in a bar or club.

Stranger rape

This is where the attacker is unknown to the victim. These incidents are less common in Jersey.

Drug/Alcohol assisted rape

This is where alcohol or drugs are intentionally given to a victim for the purpose of committing rape or alternatively where they have consumed a sufficient quantity where their ability to consent is impaired.

If you are thinking of reporting an incident of this nature to Police please keep in mind that drugs only stay in the system for between six and 16 hours, so for officers to take this kind of evidence it needs to be done as soon as possible.

What is Consent ?

Consent is basically agreeing to do something – in this case having sex with another person. Quite simply, if you do not give your consent, it is rape.

The official police guidance defines consent as the person “agreeing by choice and having the freedom and capacity to make that choice”.

So if you make the decision based on fear, fraud or because of drug or alcohol intake, it is not true consent and will amount to rape.

Many people associate rape with a stranger attack in a dark alley. This is not the case. In Jersey 90% of sexual assaults happen when the victim and attacker are known to each other.

But no matter what the situation or relationship, sex without consent is rape.

What are the effects of rape and sexual assault ?

Sexual assault and rape are amongst the most devastating of human experiences. The terror, helplessness, humiliation and pain involved result in severe distress which can have an impact on every aspect of the victim’s life. The effects will vary from person to person because everyone reacts differently to trauma and crisis, and sometimes a person will not react in the way they themselves might have expected. However, certain common patterns emerge.

  1. Common Immediate effects –These may persist for several days or weeks:
  • Shock and withdrawal: the victim may be unable to speak about the experience. S/he may appear ‘frozen’.
  • Panic and confusion: the victim may be very distraught and may be very frightened and show signs of extreme fear.
  • A tendency to dwell on the details of the assault.
  • Recurrent and intrusive flashbacks of the assault, where for the individual it feels like a reliving of parts of the experience, with all of the feelings and reactions that were there at the time.
  • Sleeplessness and nightmares.
  • Hypervigilance: a person may be on the alert all the time and may be easily startled.
  • Calm and rational: some people respond to severe trauma by retreating from the feelings and becoming very reasoned and logical.
  • Denial: the person may minimise what has occurred and try to deal with it by behaving as nothing has happened.
  • Obsessive washing: the victim may feel dirty and tainted and wash over and over again.
  • Physical trauma: injuries such as bruising, cuts or soreness around the genital or anal area may have been inflicted. If the victim was beaten or physically assaulted, there may be other injuries. However, the absence of physical trauma is not an indication that a person has not been raped.

2.      Common Long term effects

  • Recurrent and intrusive recollections of the assault.
  • Self-blame and guilt: the person may agonise over what it was s/he did which provoked the attack, regardless of the fact that it was not his or her fault.
  • Fear: the person may feel unsafe, even in familiar places with people s/he knows.
  • Deep emotional pain: the person may experience strong feelings of anger, sadness etc.
  • Dramatic mood swings, particularly following exposure to events or places similar to the setting of the assault.
  • Difficulty in trusting, even those whom s/he knows and cares for, and difficulty in trusting and feeling safe in the company of the opposite sex.
  • Sexual difficulties: recollections of the assault may impinge on the person’s sexual relationship with his or her partner.
  • Impaired concentration and memory.
  • Difficulty in coping with normal routines.
  • Development of addictions (drink, drugs, food).

Is Healing possible ?

No matter how great the victims difficulty in coping with the assault, it does not mean that s/he has developed serious or permanent psychiatric or emotional problems. The victim of sexual violence can recover and reclaim his or her life.

Am I going mad ?

When someone has been raped or sexually abused they can experience nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive memories and high levels of fear and distress. Counselling helps people become aware that these feelings are a normal reaction to the abnormal events they have experienced.

Why do I need Counselling ?

All of us, both men and women, experience difficulties in our lives. Some experiences are too hard to deal with on your own. Maybe you can’t talk to family or friends, or there is a limit to the help they can give.

Our counsellors are trained to provide the confidential support necessary to help you heal from the hurt of rape and sexual abuse.

How does Counselling help ?

Counselling helps by providing a person the time and space, not always available in other parts of their lives, to explore their feelings in relation to their trauma. It is an enormous relief for someone to be able to talk, perhaps for the first time, about what happened and how it has affected their life. It is helpful over time, and without pressure or expectation to be able to open up to and express painful memories and feelings that may have been bottled up for a long time.

How long does Counselling take ?

The length of time counselling takes varies from person to person. Everyone is an individual and each person’s experience is unique, so the duration of their counseling cannot be predicted. It can vary from a few weeks up to a few months or longer. Most people feel some benefit even after a few sessions.

It is always the choice of the individual whether or not they wish to continue with the counselling process. There will always be time to discuss this with their counsellor.

Is Counselling Free ?


Once again, the Helpline for the J.A.A.R. (Jersey Action Against Rape) is

01534 – 482 – 800




Self Defence and the Law


I have often been asked, over the last thirty six years, how far a person can go when trying to defend themselves from attack. The Law can be a minefield of contradictions, and I am only referring to the Law both in the United Kingdom and in my home island of Jersey. I think that my ‘guest blogger’, Don Roley, has been able to explain his views and the Laws from across ‘The Pond’ in the USA, and, I am sure that he would be more than happy to expand on the laws of self defense (American spelling) in future articles, including the use of firearms, which cannot be openly carried in Britain unless you are a Police firearms officer or military personnel on deployment.

The following definition of ‘self defence’ in Britain was taken from the website of the UK Crown Prosecution Service. Under Section 3 (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1967 it states that,

”A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or persons unlfully at large.”

UK Crown Prosecution Service

While this is a very formal definition of what constitutes the law on self defence and appears to be angled towards what law enforcement officers and other legal entities can do, it also outlines the self defence laws for members of the public.

Under UK law, there is no specific definition of ‘reasonable force’, only guidelines but, if you can fully justify your use of force in a Court of Law you are unlikely to be convicted of an offence.

As well as Section 3(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1967, there is also the common law definition, which operates in three spheres;

(A) To defend oneself from attack,

(B) To prevent an attack on another person,

eg. R v Rose (1884), 15 Cox 540, where the defendant , who had shot dead his father, whilst the latter was launching a murderous attack on the defendent’s mother, was acquitted of murder on the grounds of self defence.

(C) To defend your property


In 2013, the former Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, announced the toughened up law on ‘householder defence’. This allowed for disproportionate force to be used such cases if the householder was unable to make ‘fine’ judgements in the heat of the moment so long as their actions could be deemed to be necessary. In two cases this has been used successfully.

In December 2013 Denby Collins was restrained by a house resident in Gillingham, Kent, until the police arrived, Collins having broken into the premises. The police arrived, handcuffed the accused and then found him to have become unresponsive. He was transferred to hospital, then to a neurological unit where he Stayed in a coma. Nine months later, the Department of Public Prosecutions decided not to pursue any action against the householders and, in a separate Independant Police Complaints procedure, no officers  were found guilty of any misconduct. The family of  Collins, appealed to the High Court but the appeal was rejected (Appeal panel chaired by Lord Leveson).

The Guardian newspaper covered the appeal in an article on Friday 15th January 2016 and quoted Lord Leveson as stating that with regards to the ‘householder defence’, the circumstances were found to be compatible with the European human rights legislation in that, a householder can use a disproportionate level of force against an intruder in their homes if the reasonably believe it to be necessary.

Collins v R – High Court appeal   – http://www.theguardian.com

This is eerily similar to another case in April this year when a burglar suffered fatal knife injuries after breaking into a pensioners home in Hither Green, South East London, collapsing outside the property. The intruder, 37 year old Henry Vincent, already wanted by Police for breaking into another pensioner’s home, died at the scene. 

The householder, 78 year old Richard Osborn-Brooks, was initially arrested on suspicion of murder but, after the circumstances were investigated, was released without charge. This led to sustained harassment from Vincent’s family and Traveller Community that necessitated Mr. Osborn-Brooks being moved to a safe house to avoid reprisals. 

Intruder Killed in Pensioner’s Home was Wanted over Another Burglary

(Left – Richard Osborn-Brooks;    Right – Henry Vincent)

One element that must be adhered to is that one cannot use ‘excessive force’. If a defendant used excessive force, this may indicate that they could have acted unreasonably in the circumstances. Therefore, there would be no valid defence in either Common Law or under the Criminal Law Act. Sometimes, in self defence classes I use the example of a person, who has successfully defended themselves by use of a ‘reasonable force’ defence technique, escalating that violence by continuing to kick the assailant on the ground several times, despite the attack having already been subdued. The multiple kicks, while the original attacker lies motionless, will, in all likelihood, be seen as the use of ‘excessive force’ and you could be facing charges of assault.

The Police definition of assault is (Ashford Police Training College, 1982),

An attempt, threat or offer, by some physical act, to inflict unlawful force upon another, with the apparent ability to carry it out.”


The pre-emptive strike has been used in physical altercations for millennia as it was seen to be a tactic to end a physical threat quickly and cleanly, however, the pre-emptive strike can be either an assault (see definition above) that cannot be argued as a self defence technique or as a major component part of a successful pleading for self defence used reasonably in the circumstances.

Lord Griffiths, of Her Majesty’s Appeal Courts, as head of the panel for the appeal against conviction (in Jamaica) of a Police Officer sentenced to death for murder of a suspect, used the defence of ‘pre-emptive strike’ to allow the appeal and subsequently have the Queen quash the conviction. This case, Beckford v R (1988) is regularly used in Court when a defendant is using ‘pre-emptive strike’ as a defence in Law.

BARON GRIFFITHS OF GOVILON QC In the County of Gwent (Rt Hon Sir William Hugh Griffiths) Life Peer A Lord of Appeal in Ordinary In robes for his Introduction in the House of Lords COMPULSORY CREDIT: UPPA/Photoshot Photo CGL 195485 06.06.1985

(Lord Griffiths of the Appeal Court whose ruling, in 1988, is used frequently when defending the use of a pre-emptive strike)

Lord Griffiths summarised that,

”A person, about to be attacked, does not have to wait for his assailant to strike the first blow or fire the first shot; circumstances may justify a pre-emptive strike”.

Importantly, the force used not only had to be reasonable in the circumstances but it could include “an honestly held belief that those circumstances were present while acting in their own defence or the defence of another”, even if the actual circumstances were found to be different at the investigative stage and subsequent prosecution. Mistaken self defence is still effective to negate the ‘men’s rea’ of a crime provided it was an honest and reasonable mistake.

Before the granting of Beckford’s appeal, Lord Griffiths stated,

”A man who is attacked in circumstances where he reasonably believes his life to be in danger or that he is in danger of serious bodily injury, may use such force as, on reasonable grounds, he thinks necessary in order to resist the attack and if using such force, he kills his assailant, he is not guilty of any crime, even if the killing is intentional.”



There are a myriad of martial arts clubs all over the world who teach the most popular (of the moment) and the more obscure martial styles from all over the globe from the usual countries, such as Japan, China, Russia, Korea, USA and the Philippines (to name but a few) alongside those lesser known arts from countries and cultures such as Mongolia, Native America, Scandinavia, India etc.

More recently, newer hybrids have emerged and become popular in the age of wall-to-wall media coverage and sponsors, such as MMA (mixed martial arts), BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), Systema (Russia) and Krav Maga (Israeli). In fact, mixed martial arts has rapidly become a global phenomenon, covered extensively on both social media and mainstream international sports channels. Martial arts used to be something tucked away and secretive but that ceiling has been well and truly destroyed and some of the professional fighters have as high  a profile as many professional boxers and major global sports stars. All over the world there are millions of martial artists taking part in their chosen sport and/or art, from the beginner to the most experienced and talented martial artists out there. The motivation to train can come from anywhere; 

Self development, fitness, a sense of belonging, sporting prowess, striving to be the best that they can, cultural, combatting bullying, self defence; any number of reasons or combinations.

Self preservation ie. Survival, is the human being’s strongest instinct. It is often the  wish to learn ‘self defence’ that draws people to the martial arts and other pugilistic forms (I place boxing into the category of martial arts). 


In my opinion, everyone should try a martial art at least once. Contrary to the consensus view that martial arts teach you violence and fighting, what they actually teach you is far greater than any other educational tool; skills, posture, confidence, togetherness, rules, brain development, fitness, camaraderie, a sense of belonging, relaxation, breathing, muscle memory, body language recognition; the list is endless. Oh! And ‘self defence’. In relation to ‘violence and fighting’; they in fact teach you to recognise the signs of violence and violent people and situations and then tutor you on being able to assess that situation and make the best decision, for you, with which to avoid that violence, and, as guest blogger Don Roley said, TO GET HOME SAFELY.

I have been teaching the Japanese martial art of Aikido for exactly thirty-one years, but also specialise in control and restraint for Law Enforcement and self protection and awareness for women and vulnerable adults (including the differently abled) I am a former police officer and current door woman at pubs, clubs and festivals. I have been around real- life violence for over over thirty eight years and I can say this:


Over the last three decades, I have seen numerous martial arts clubs (all styles) advertising and running ‘Women’s Self Defence Classes or Courses’. While I applaud their endeavour to offer classes to equip women with tools with which to use in an attack scenario, that they may not have possessed before, there have been some unrealistic ‘promises’ about what a person will be able to achieve if attacked.

Some that I have seems over the years include;

“In 6 / 8 / 10 weeks of training you will be able to defend yourself.”

Nobody should guarantee anything of the sort. While they may give you tools and useful techniques, nobody should say that you WILL be able to protect yourself. There are many other variables to consider and nobody is invincible; the main one is being able to control the surge of adrenaline when you feel fear.

”Handle any attack and never be afraid again by doing our self defence course.”

Feeling fear is actually an essential part of preparing the human body for fight or flight. You have to feel fear to release the hormone ‘adrenaline’ in these circumstances.

”Learn from an experienced self defence instructor.”

While you may be learning techniques from a highly experienced martal arts instructor, that does not necessarily mean that they are also a ‘self defence’ instructor. Many martial arts instructors have not actually been in real situations involving extreme violence. Thus, they may be working to a belief or third party anecdotes and not reality. This you see many times from random videos published in such media platforms as You Tube and Vimeo. Many of the techniques shown are flowery, non realistic, and lacking in any understanding of the psychology of violence. This sets a dangerous precedent as people watch these clips and believe what they see. It might help you but equally it COULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR SERIOUS INJURY OR WORSE. Over confidence can be as destructive as lacking in it.

Finally, more important than the physical techniques taught in a self defence setting, are the lessons about awareness of your surroundings and common sense approaches to everyday situations, from a simple shopping trip to a night out on the town. Trying to avoid potential problems before they happen will keep you out of trouble most of the time. And, as my guest blogger Don Roley said, “self defence is about getting home safely.”

I am always available for advice on personal safety and self defence and can be contacted in a number of ways.

  • By email to roisin.pitman@hotmail.co.uk
  • On Facebook on the FB page for the URBAN WARRIOR PRINCESS
  • Through my personal Facebook page at Roisin Xena Pitman



Roisin has been a martial arts instructor for over 30 years, holding a 6th Dan in Aikido and 4th Dan in Mushin-Do. She specialises in self defence for women and vulnerable adults and gives seminars, courses and talks on all aspects of self defence.

Roisin holds Nationally accredited Level 3 Teaching qualifications in:

Education & Training, Conflict Management, Self Defence, Physical Intervention in the Security Industry, Control & Restraint and Handcuffing / mechanical restraints. She also teaches the Level 2 Door Security Supervisor course.

She is a retired Police Officer and currently works in security on the Doors of pubs, clubs and at festivals.

Self Defence blog from Guest Blogger (USA) Don Roley

It is my great pleasure to introduce to you my ‘guest blogger’. I have been following Don Roley’s posts for some time now and he always speaks a lot of common sense on the subject of martial arts and practical everyday self defence.

A full biography about Don can be found at the bottom of his blog post and I thank him for giving me the permission to reproduce his words on my site.



Friday September 7, 2018

Among the forgotten lore of self defense there is a little secret. Self defense isn’t about beating the other person to a pulp. It is about getting home safe.

We are mammals, descending from pack animals. Look at a band of gorillas and you will find one that has fought all the beta males and now is the only one to pass on his genes to the next generation. Even mammals further from us like deer fight other males for the right to breed.

In these fights, the would- be alpha male has to defeat his challengers. Most mammals have it easy. The rules are simple, you defeat members of your own species and either kill or run away from other species. The lion doesn’t kill other lions and the deer runs as soon as it spots a predator. But we humans might find another human coming at us with a knife in his hand and murder in his eyes. Or it might be a school yard fight to see who is going to be the big man on campus. Treating one like the other can be deadly.

Much of what is touted as self defense training now seems to be complicated versions of the fight to become the alpha male of the tribe. That isn’t self defense. The name coined for it is social violence. It is what young boys do in the schoolyard. There are unspoken rules against things like using weapons or doing things that will leave permanent damage. It isn’t self defense, it is a dick- measuring contest. Break the unspoken rules and your social situation becomes much worse than if you merely lost.

As I said, this isn’t self defense. When the crazy ex-boyfriend of your lover tries to corner you with a knife, that is self defense. When he confronts you at a party and you stand there and trade insults with him, any fight that happens after that is merely two idiots trying to impress the crowd with their manliness.

Self defense is about getting home safe. That means in the party scenario that as soon as you see that things could get violent, you get the hell out of there.

Mind you, you will be fighting a million year breeding program telling you that if you don’t stand there and defeat your rival, you will never get a chance to pass on your genes.

If you get into a violent encounter, defeating the enemy isn’t your prime goal if you are really talking about self defense. Unless you are a police officer or security guard, the need to wrap your opponent up and choke him out is a very distant second to getting the hell out of there. And yet many styles heavily dependent on competition train their students to think only of defeating the other person.

I had two female students in my class last night. Together they weigh just about the same as me. And I am not a huge guy. If a 320 pound kidnapper tried to pull them into a van, maybe their skills would be good enough to defeat him, especially if they use surprise, strategy and trickery. But their best bet is to fight only long enough to trip him so they can turn and run as fast as they can, screaming all the way.

And yet, people are being trained in that case to follow up with the other person falling to do a ground and pound. That isn’t just not self defense, it isn’t smart as well.

Yes sometimes you do have to stand your ground. When the vengeful ex-lover breaks into a woman’s house and starts moving towards the rooms of children he vowed to kill to hurt her, a woman will stand her ground. The thing is, she will probably die happily in that case if she can take the would- be murderer with her before he can reach her kids.

When you talk about a ‘self defense’ scenario with some people and ask why you don’t just walk away before trouble starts or run as soon as it does, it is amazing to find out how many people are always accompanied by dozens of crippled relatives who can’t move faster than a shuffle. Really? It astounds me that most of the people claiming to do self defense seem to spend more time talking themselves out of walking away than from getting into a fight.

This came up recently when a discussion of whether taking a person to the ground who has a knife is the best way to deal with the situation. For the record, going to the ground when the other person has a knife is a very bad idea. Take someone that knows even a little about how to use a knife, give him a marker and try it out yourself sometime to prove this to yourself. Every mark on you has a good chance of killing you if it was a blade, or at least crippling you.

When this was pointed out, the other side responded with the argument, “Well, how can you really hope to defeat such an overwhelming advantage as a knife? At least you have your best chance of immobilizing him if you use BJJ.”

See the trap they let their mindset fall into? Do you sometimes have to injure or kill someone with a knife to make it home alive? Possibly. But if you really are interested in surviving a knife attack, the odds are much better if you do something like jump back and around until you can grab a chair or something to toss at the guy long enough to gain some real distance and then run faster than an olympic sprinter. You don’t defeat them, but you survive. Surviving is what you should be thinking about first in a knife attack, not how to defeat them. And the scary thing is, some criminals are training themselves to pull a knife in the middle of a fight or when you won’t notice. You think you are in a fist fight, but end up stabbed to death. With this reality, shouldn’t we start to look at any fight we walk into as being a possible knife attack rather than just a way for two beta males to figure out who the alpha will be?

Spotting trouble is better than walking away from it. Walking away is better than talking your way out of violence. Talking your way out of violence is better than fighting. Where is any of this in most of what is called “self defense” training? What I mainly see is people that require 120 pound women to go toe to toe with an attacker until one of them is incapacitated. Anything else is only given lip service.

Getting away from danger, as opposed to beating the enemy, starts long before the first blow is thrown. If you are in a fight and get a chance to run, then you should take it if you can. But when someone at a bar starts giving you the hairy eyeball, why stick around? Are you afraid you won’t be able to pass along your genes that night in some way? If you don’t finish your drink and leave, you increase your chances of maybe ending up in the ER with a knife wound or worse. If they insult you and you insult them back, anything from that point on is a mutual dance and not self defense. For self defense you would have to take the insult and walk away. If they try to chase you down at that point and force a fight on you then you can say you were defending yourself. If the fight isn’t forced on you, but you stood there until he threw a blow, that is just two guys trying to figure out who is the alpha male at best. At worst, it could be a criminal trying to set you up to be knifed.

And yet, look at the people attracted to many types of arts that claim to teach self defense. They are the spitting image of the term, “Young, dumb and full of cum.” They want to prove themselves, show the world they are the alpha male. And they aren’t being told nor trained to get out of there when they can. They are being conditioned to always dominate the other and prove their manhood. They don’t go through training where at the end they have to get away. Instead they are frequently in competitions to defeat the other person, or it is a loss.

Running away isn’t losing in self defense. Beating the other guy up isn’t winning very often. Talk with some of my friends that are violence professionals and they will point out the scars and parts of their bodies that no longer work 100 percent to realize what real violence can cost even when you are the last person standing.

You can’t just give lip service to avoiding danger, walking away or running. It has to be constantly emphasized and trained at. Students have to go through scenario training where they walk across the street to avoid someone giving them menacing looks. They have to have sparring where the goal is to get away and not put the other guy in a unbreakable hold. They have to learn techniques that are useless in competition because they only let them survive and not defeat the opponent.

For too long, people have talked about self defense when they really are training to become an alpha male. It is getting to the point where that mindset dominates anything involving martial arts. It is time to step back and look at the situation and put the emphasis back into getting home safe over defeating another person.


Don Roley Bio

Don Roley is the head of the Colorado Springs Bujinkan Dojo (USA) and previously lived for 15 years in Japan learning many arts, mainly the art of ninjutsu. Unlike the image presented by the unknowing and frauds, the combat portion of ninjutsu is commonly called Tonsogate, which translates into “escape art”. Instead of trying to defeat guards when discovered, the ninja had to escape as fast as possible before the screams of those that discovered him brought dozens of reinforcements down on him. There are no holds in Togakure-ryu Tonsogata, just ways of breaking holds, tripping and discouraging pursuit. This has been the core to Don Roley’s view on self defense as he teaches now. He has two kids that he is very proud of and will stand and die to defend, and mourns his wife who gave his life meaning. He will rarely turn down a beer if offered one.

Don’s blog can be found at

Colorado Springs Ninjutsu

Ladies; Could what you are carrying in your handbags get you into trouble?


Social media has been bombarded with ‘sponsored’ adverts from companies all over the world, offering items that may, at first thought, be an ideal purchase or present For you or someone else in your life. These include ‘kitty style knuckle dusters (see picture above), mini kubotan key chains, folding knives that retract into an innocent looking key ring etc. A generic police definition of what constitutes an offensive weapon is,

”Any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use by him, or by some other person.”

Possession of an offensive weapon is still illegal in Britain regardless of whether clever marketing states that it is a key ring or not. Weapons such as knuckle dusters, kubotans (Japanese short metal baton held in the hand, using both ends to apply a strike) and the like are MADE for causing injury. The sellers of these items will promote them as a keychain first and foremost but they are still illegal to possess in public.


(One of the many styles of ‘Kubotan’ on the market being advertised as a keychain, but, if used properly, can cause serious injury to the person).

Let us get back to the typical handbag.

On a night out or a day at a festival, what do you carry, apart from cash, credit cards and mobile phone?

Often now, at Jersey festivals, where search upon entry procedures are carried out, your ticket sets out the terms and conditions of entry. This will include the obvious as in no alcohol, no drugs, no offensive weapons etc. It may also stop people bringing in their own furniture (folding chairs, benches etc.). More and more now it also states that you cannot bring in perfume bottles and aerosols ie deodorant in spray form. While under normal circumstances, deodorants and perfumes are used in the conventional sense, these items could also be used as weapons (ANY ARTICLE ‘INTENDED’ FOR USE AS AN OFFENSIVE WEAPON) either by spraying them in people’s faces or by using a lighter with either to create a mini flame-thrower. At the last festival that I worked on, we could have filled a perfumery with the amount of bottles that we had to relieve people of, despite the terms and conditions being quite clearly set out.

There are also times that people have returned to Jersey on the boat from France having quite innocently purchased Mace** or a similar spray for use as a self defence deterrent. Unfortunately, this type of spray is illegal to possess in Jersey (and the rest of Great Britain) as well as being illegal to import.

Mace (Chemical Mace) was the first of its type to be produced but there are now many derivatives available on the market through internet sellers. Check your country’s laws on possession before committing to buying these products online.

**Mace is the genericised trademark of Chemical Mace, the brand name of an early type of aerosol self-defence spray invented by Allan Lee Litman in 1965. The first commercial product of its type, Litman’s design packaged phenacyl chloride (CN) tear gas dissolved in hydrocarbon solvents into a small aerosol spray can, usable in almost any environment and strong enough (when sprayed in the face) to act as a credible deterrent and incapacitant. Its popularity led to the brand name being shortened to simply “Mace” for all defense sprays (regardless of the composition). 

(taken from the Wikipedia webpage on MACE)


Let us look at the three designations that form the basis of the offensive weapons Law.

On a website for a legal firm Lawton’s Law (www.lawtonslaw.co.uk) they set it our as follows:

What is classified as an offensive weapon in UK law?

The law recognises three categories of offensive weapon:

Those where objects are MADE for use for causing injury to the person. These items are legally classified as ‘offensive weapons per se’ and include flick knives, kitchen knives**, butterfly knives, pepper sprays, knuckle dusters, Kubotans (ed.) and nunchaku (rice flails as used in the Bruce Lee film ‘Enter the Dragon – ed.)

Those where objects are ADAPTED for such a purpose, i.e. to cause injury to a person. This includes items that would otherwise be incapable of causing injury but have been changed so that they now can, for example a sock containing a snooker ball, a sharpened stick or a sharpened snooker cue, a baseball bat with nails added or a water pistol filled with acid.

Those where objects are not so made or adapted but carried with the INTENTION of causing injury to the person, for example a cup of bleach carried with the intent of throwing it into someone’s face to cause injury, sharpened nail scissors or a baseball bat.


(The late actor, Bruce Lee, in a scene from ‘Enter the Dragon’, using nunchaku also commonly known as rice flails, as they were originally used in rice farming)

Most items in your handbag are innocuous and are essential to one’s personal carry every day. If you are unsure whether an item that you wish to purchase could be classified as an offensive weapon and that by being in possession of it, you may fall foul of the law, contact your local police station and ask.

Or simply contact me, the Urban Warrior Princess, at roisin.pitman@hotmail.co.uk and I can advise you.