9 times domestic violence victims were failed by police

Dina Rickman@dinarickman
Thursday 25 December 2014 10:00

The sad truth is that the Christmas period is often associated with an increase in domestic violence.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of charity Refuge, said that for "too many women and children, December 25 will be yet another day of living with fear, intimidation and violence".

She explained that police forces reporting an increase in incidents of domestic violence could be because many of them run high-profile awareness campaigns around this time.

"Domestic violence is an abuse of power - it is the repeated, habitual use of violence and intimidation to control another person," Ms Horley said. "We cannot blame domestic violence on Christmas, alcohol, drugs, unemployment, stress, money worries or ill health. These are just excuses for an abuser’s behaviour."

With that in mind, here are nine times victims of domestic violence were failed by police in Britain.

A * indicates where names have been changed.

1. Becky McPhee

Becky McPhee told police she believed it was only a matter of time before her estranged husband killed her in one of 17 violent incidents logged in the two years before her murder in 2012. In September 2014 the IPPC concluded the 47-year-old had been failed by Merseyside Police.

Source: IPCC

2. Jane Frost*

Jane Frost contacted the police several times before she was murdered by her ex-partner Tom Williams in 2003. When she complained of stalking following an incident of domestic violence no notification was issued to the relevant department. Williams stabbed her to death in August 2003, five months after she left him. Although he had previously behaved abusively to former girlfriends nothing appeared on police records. The IPPC concluded police had failed her in several respects.

Source: IPCC

3. Jeanette Goodwin

Jeanette Goodwin, 47, was murdered in 2011 by her ex-partner Martin Bunch. Ms Goodwin, a mother of three, reported Bunch to police seven times between January 2011 and her murder in July of that year. A review by the IPCC published in 2012 found that Essex Police had failed to appreciate how much danger she was in.

Source: IPCC

4. Cassandra Hasanovic

Cassandra Hasanovic, 24, was killed by her estranged husband Harry Hasanovic, 34, in front of their two children in July 2008. She had been on her way to a women's refuge when she was killed. An inquest found that Kent Police did not take appropriate steps to protect her life.

Source: Refuge

5. Maria Stubbings

Maria Stubbings made repeated calls for help to Essex police before she was strangled by her ex-partner Marc Chivers, a convicted murderer, in 2008. Police became aware of his past in mid-July 2008, three months after Ms Stubbings first made contact with them about a theft by Chivers. She was killed by him in December that year.

An investigation by the IPCC concluded police missed a large number of opportunities to safeguard Ms Stubbings.

Source: IPCC

6. Rachael Thomson*

Pregnant Rachael Thomson was murdered by her boyfriend Alan Jones in 2005, a week after she reported an attack by him to police. They deemed an incident on 5 June 2005, where Jones threatened to kill her, low risk. Within a week she had been murdered.

Source: IPCC

7. Mavis Clift and family

Mavis Clift, 75, died in a house fire in Northamptonshire. Her daughter Susan Robinson also suffered serious injuries in the fire and Mrs Clift's husband was also injured. Susan’s estranged husband Paul Barber was accused of the murder but died in prison before going on trial. Susan Robinson had reported Paul Barber to police for harassment and threats, saying she was “terrified of what he was going to do”. In 2014 the IPCC found Northamptonshire Police had missed opportunities to deal with the risk presented by Barber.

Source: IPPC

8. Anonymous woman

An un-named woman who was hospitalised after being attacked in her home by her partner with a hammer was let down by South Wales Police. On the day of her attack the woman had contact with police, and she had also said she did not feel able to return home. The IPCC ruled in June 2014 that police did not do enough to protect the woman. Her assailant had been released in prison in 2007 and was a registered sex offender with a record of violence.

Source: IPPC

9. Casey Brittle

Casey Brittle, 21, was beaten to death by her estranged partner Sanchez Williams in 2010. Her two-year-old daughter was found next to her body. Between September 2008 - August 2010 police had responded to 11 calls involving Casey and Williams. None of the calls resulted in criminal charges. In 2011 the IPPC found that police had failed the young mother.

Source: IPCC

More: Visit Refuge's website