Yesterday, I had an interview with a filmmaker called Carol who is making a film about Joyce Vincent – the woman found dead in a flat in Wood Green and who had been dead for three years. Found with the television on and Christmas presents wrapped, she was relatively young. Carol wants to make a film about the woman and society and how this can happen in today’s world.
I run her though my take on all that has gone on – including my visit to the refuge where Joyce was housed at some point over a domestic violence issue. I met with the Housing Association. I talked to the police. I corresponded with the local authority Chief Exec. And I tried my hardest to get a meeting with Women’s Aid – but to date they have not responded.
And my conclusions? Well – the Housing Association are putting in place a trigger mechanism so that any one of their around 500 tenants who live on their own will be flagged up if not seen for x amount of time. The Chief Exec of the local authority said that they were satisfied there was nothing in their remit that could have been done. The police revisited the decision they made when they originally went into the flat that it was not foul play. Having revisited the decision – they remained content with it.
I feel duty bound to pursue a couple of things a bit further for this woman whose life ended so sadly. Because whilst the media circus went away – there are still a couple of things that give me concern. The first is the statutory inspection that I believe is meant to be made annually on any such property. The other really results from my visit to the women’s refuge that night. A young girl let me in and we talked for about three quarters of an hour. She had been there a year – and never knew or had heard of Joyce Vincent. She said that there wasn’t much contact with the women’s organisation – and that ‘you could commit suicide here and no one would know’. She was due to leave a few days after my visit and I gave her my personal mobile number in case she needed to talk to me. I was concerned that my visit might worry her in some way. In the event, she called me a few days later to say that she had indeed moved into a flat in West Hampstead and the guys doing up the flat had robbed her and broken the lock on the door. In order to get a grant to mend the door lock, she needed a crime number and she was too frightened to contact the police. So I rang the local police commander and got the name of a special liaison officer and the number for her to call. She rang again a couple of days later to say in fact she had gone and stayed at her aunts for a couple of nights and her aunt paid for the door to be repaired.
The reason I wanted to meet with Women’s Aid is really to ask about how it works for women when they are in a refuge and when they leave. I suspect many women don’t want ongoing contact – but I wondered whether resources are so tight that after care is not offered. I just don’t know. I am still hoping to get to see them at some point. I suspect their reluctance stems from trying to avoid the real media onslaught that surrounded the Joyce Vincent case and that they are acting to protect women in such situations. However, there are still some questions.
So – I dropped the filmmaker at the flats above Wood Green shopping city. There is such a fascination for us, I think, to imagine how you could die and no one know or care for three years. Perhaps Carol will find her story – but more likely not. People do have the right to say that they don’t want to associate with the world, and if someone wants to cut themselves off – that is their right.