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  1. ITV Report

Essex Police criticised over handling of domestic abuse cases

The HMIC have outlined a serious of recommendations in handling domestic violence. Photo: PA

Essex Police, which failed four murder victims, has been criticised over their handing of domestic violence cases in a report by the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

The force has been told it needs to develop staff understanding around the response to domestic abuse and how dealing with it effectively can improve the confidence of victims.

The recommendations come after the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) criticised the handling of Essex Police over the murders of four victims.

In 2008 Maria Stubbings was killed by her ex-boyfriend Marc Chivers.

Christine Chambers and her two-year-old daughter Shania were shot dead by her ex-partner David Oakes in 2011.

And Jeanette Goodwin was murdered at the hands of her ex eight weeks later.

Maria Stubbings was murdered by her ex-partner. Credit: PA

The HMIC have made the following recommendations:

  • Essex Police should review the way they prioritise domestic abuse incidents. At the moment most incidents are assessed as a priority response which makes it difficult for control room staff to identify those cases that need the fastest response. Treating every case as a priority risks more urgent cases not being properly prioritised.
  • The force need to develop staff understanding around the response to domestic abuse and how dealing with it effectively can improve the confidence of victims and prevent homicides.
  • The force should ensure the right information is available to staff who handle abuse cases, for example, by reviewing their standard operating procedure to include a question establishing how frightened a caller feels.
  • Essex Police should also take immediate steps to monitor cases where perpetrators are taken directly from police custody to court, to help ensure that the risk to victims continues to be managed if the perpetrator is released.
  • The force needs to intensify its work with other agencies across Essex to develop a more co-ordinated approach to domestic abuse.