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IPCC report into murders of Christine and Shania Chambers
8:40am Wednesday 22nd August 2012 in News
Read the summary of the report here by clicking on the picture below
The Indepdent Police Complaints Commission has published its report into the deaths of a mother and daughter.
IPCC Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne said: "The deaths of Christine and Shania Chambers are shocking to us all. It is impossible to say with any certainty whether if individual officers or the force had done things differently Ms Chambers and Shania would still be alive today. While individual police officers could and should have done things better, this is not essentially a failure of individuals, but a failure of systems. The investigation identified a lack of adequate training, insufficient resources allocated to domestic violence cases and poor oversight.
"This is a tragic and disturbing case and the investigation has identified several key issues which apply to many other cases where domestic homicide is the outcome. Many women are reluctant to pursue criminal proceedings against abusive partners, sometimes even to seek help at all. There are many reasons for this, and often it is fear that they will exacerbate the situation and increase the danger they face.
"Undoubtedly this poses significant challenges for the police and other agencies, but it is essential in these situations that all possible is done to protect the victims and their children. Unwillingness to seek help or give evidence against the perpetrator is often due to fear and can be a sign of vulnerability, not culpability, and this must be recognised when a risk assessment is completed. I am very grateful to the members of a community reference group I established in July 2011 for their domestic violence expertise in relation to this and other Essex domestic homicide cases.”
The IPCC has discussed its investigation findings with the force, and Essex Police has produced an interim management review report identifying the organisational lessons learnt from the deaths of Christine and Shania Chambers. As a result Essex Police has now completed or put in place a number of actions to strengthen its response to domestic abuse incidents. The investigation found the actions of any individual police officers did not amount to misconduct. Five police officers have been debriefed on the investigation findings by a senior officer to inform their future actions in such cases. The roles and responsibilities of other agencies involved are being addressed separately by a Serious Case Review and Domestic Homicide Review.
The IPCC investigation covered 16 interactions between police and Christine Chambers or David Oakes between March 2009 and June 2011. The investigation examined police logs, statements from officers, family members and neighbours, and considered domestic abuse practice and policies within the force. The investigation also addressed a number of specific concerns expressed by Ms Chambers’ family.
The IPCC has urged Essex Police to reinforce training to officers around use of domestic violence forms and in particular the need, in accordance with national policy, to ask additional questions of a victim where stalking and harassment is identified. In a specific recommendation, the IPCC has asked Essex Police to work with Chelmsford County Court and Essex County Council , to put mechanisms in place for better information sharing in cases involving child custody proceedings. Ultimately, domestic violence forms are only a tool to assist in risk assessment, and information sharing contributes to this process by providing a fuller picture. However, it is vital that the police understand the dynamics of domestic violence, including the patterns of behaviour and the risk factors to assess the danger and reduce the risk of domestic homicide. Effective training and ongoing supervision, as well as formal procedures are vital to ensure that police officers have the appropriate levels of knowledge and skills to do this.
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