Isle of Man Chief Constable says 'professionals' need 'better curiosity' following murder case

  • Chief Constable Gary Roberts responds to the Isle of Man's safeguarding review

The Chief Constable of the Isle of Man has called on people in the island to have 'more curiosity' when it comes to spotting cases of domestic abuse.

Gary Roberts was speaking in response to a safeguarding review, following a murder and serious assault on the Isle of Man in January 2021.

The report found 'significant gaps' in the response to the case of domestic abuse, but concluded the death 'could not have been predicted or prevented'.

Responding to the report, Mr Roberts said: "Something like this is desperately sad. When you look at it with hindsight you can see reachable moments where professionals could make a difference had they done other things."

He concluded: "Professionals need to have better curiosity, their curiosity is key to this because if professionals are able to say to themselves 'what is going on here? Not what I see, but what is actually behind what I see?' they'll then ask the right questions and take the right action to safeguard people."

The Isle of Man Constabulary respond to around 700 cases of domestic abuse a year.

In January 2021, a woman on the Isle of Man was killed by her own son while he was experiencing schizophrenia.

The man, who in the report has been called ‘Mark’, killed his mother ‘Mrs K’ and seriously assaulted his father ‘Mr K’. 

Mrs K and a friend of Mark’s had contacted mental health services on five different occasions to raise issues about his behaviour, but he did not engage with an assessment.

It was documented that Mark had experienced multiple adverse experiences in his younger years including witnessing the domestic abuse of his mother, parental alcoholism, family instability and caring responsibilities.

The investigation found that the adults in the family had longstanding issues with alcoholism and domestic abuse, and despite multiple agencies intervening or offering support, all assistance was refused by them.

The son was also listed as a young carer for his disabled father, but this was not adequately recognised and there was a lack of professional curiosity about his day to day lived experience.

The report made four specific recommendations in response to the case and these were:

  • More robust measures in place for responding to incidents of domestic abuse.

  • Manx Care Social Care should lead an awareness raising campaign about being a young carer.

  • The Department of Health and Social Care should assure there are robust processes in place to correctly identify the adult/child’s registered GP.

  • The review should be shared with the IOM Department of Home Affairs to inform the implementation of its Domestic Abuse strategy.

One of the recommendations suggested Manx Care lead an awareness campaign about what it means to be a young carer.

Speaking after the report, the executive director for safeguarding, Sally Shaw said: "I think even without this we knew there wasn't enough in place for young carers".

She continued: "We have a lot of work to do around identifying and supporting young carers to make sure they don't have the negative impact that we know it can have."

In response, Manx Care is to lead an awareness campaign around young carers.

  • Sally Shaw, Executive Director for Mental Health, Social Care and Safeguarding

Concluding the report, the Independent Chair of the Safeguarding Board, Lesley Walker, said: "This review highlights the need for everyone to understand the impact that adverse childhood experiences can have on children’s lives and the importance of professionals and services intervening early to prevent trauma."

She added: "It is critical that practitioners responding to complex family issues, especially domestic abuse should consider the risks and vulnerabilities of all people within the household, with a particular emphasis on children and the impact on their daily lived experiences."

The Isle of Man's Safeguarding Board have accepted the recommendations and aim to prevent similar cases in future.

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