Independent Police Complaints Commission
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IPCC finds shortcomings in how Gwent Police handled contact with Caroline Parry prior to her murder

Improvements need to be made to the way Gwent Police handle stalking and harassment cases according to a report published yesterday by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The report follows an IPCC independent investigation into how officers risk assessed and dealt with three incidents in the lead up to the murder of Caroline Parry in Newport, in August 2013.

Caroline Parry was murdered by her estranged husband, Christopher Parry, when he shot her near her Seabreeze Avenue home on 8 August.  Caroline Parry had contacted Gwent Police twice in the months leading up to her death, asking for help and raising concerns about Christopher Parry’s behaviour.

The IPCC report also highlights how officers failed to make referrals to the Firearms Licensing Department which might have led to Christopher Parry’s firearms licence being withdrawn before the fatal shooting.

IPCC Commissioner Jan Williams said:

“This was a callous, brutal murder that devastated Caroline’s family and friends. Our investigation found weaknesses and shortcomings in how Gwent Police handled this case and it is not the first time the IPCC has raised concerns over how the force responds to domestic abuse cases. The force has given a higher priority to domestic abuse cases, but I am urging senior officers again to ensure they take all necessary steps to improve their performance.”

The IPCC report found:

  • officers who responded to incidents involving the couple were not in possession of all relevant information about their past history. A risk assessment should have classified Caroline Parry as being at high risk of serious harm;
  • more consideration should have been given to Christopher Parry’s coercive and controlling behaviour, as a feature of the domestic abuse he was perpetrating;
  •  the way the force used firearms warning markers made victims vulnerable; markers only appeared on incident logs if the report was made from the address to which the firearms certificate was registered. Victims of domestic abuse who are estranged from their partners will invariably live at a different address, and so may not benefit from the degree of protection given by such markers which are important in alerting officers to a potential risk;
  • while Mr Parry had held his firearms certificate legally for some years, the number of troubling indicators about his behaviour, together with the incidents in May 2013, should have prompted a firearms licensing referral. This would have triggered suitability checks.

The IPCC investigation concluded that one officer had a case to answer for misconduct, which Gwent Police had already dealt with the matter by way of management action, and there were performance issues for two other police constables.

The report makes a number of organisational recommendations concerning domestic abuse policies and the need for a systematic approach to stalking and harassment training. 

Christopher Parry was sentenced to life imprisonment in July this year.

Notes to editors:

For media enquiries please contact the IPCC press office on 0207-166-3239 or 3260


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