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Watchdog says Merseyside police failings led to Southport murder

The murder of a Becky McPhee who was stabbed to death by her estranged husband in Southport could have been prevented by police, a watchdog has found.

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Merseyside Police accepts watchdog's criticism over Becky McPhee murder

Becky McPhee Credit: Merseyside Police

Merseyside police said the force fully accepted the Independent Police Complaints Commission's recommendations following the murder of Becky McPhee and says many of them had already been implemented.

The police force says they have held a number of training events since Ms McPhee's death and more than 1,200 staff had been briefed.

The force responds to more than 34,000 calls a year about domestic violence, or 2,800 a month.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Pilling said:

Merseyside Police wishes to pass on its sincere condolences to Rebecca's family following her tragic death, for which Paul Holmes was convicted of murder.

"In relation to Rebecca's death, there were shortfalls on the part of Merseyside Police. In particular, there was a failure to recognise the risk posed to the victim by her killer, who had threatened to commit suicide.

"Individual officers appeared more concerned regarding the threat of self-harm on the part of Paul Holmes rather than about recognising the potential for him to pose a real and significant threat towards Rebecca."

"All incidents are unique and many are complex, and an appropriate service should be provided to every victim and their family," he said.

"Merseyside Police is determined to ensure we improve the service we provide in this respect.

"We take a robust approach to such incidents and since May this year we have made full use of the new legislation regarding the issuing of Domestic Violence Prevention Orders.

"These orders give the police new powers, which did not exist at the time of Rebecca's murder, to remove suspects from the marital or family home to give victims the time they need to seek professional advice and support."

"Merseyside Police also recognises the comments made by the IPCC concerning two inspectors but would like to highlight that this was an independent investigation by the IPCC in which they assessed only one of those officers as having a case to answer for misconduct.

The force has no power to prevent a police officer retiring in such circumstances.

"The force fully accepts all the recommendations of the IPCC report and will do all we can to ensure that they are implemented in their entirety.

– Assistant Chief Constable Ian Pilling, Merseyside Police

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