Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
Learning and disciplinary proceedings for North Wales Police following investigation into contact with Nicholas Churton
Our investigation into North Wales Police’s contact with murder victim Nicholas Churton has identified cases to answer for misconduct for two officers and urged the force to review procedures in recognising vulnerability.
Mr Churton was found dead in his home in Wrexham on 27 March 2017. Jordan Davidson admitted his murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
We have completed our investigation into NWP contact with Mr Churton in the 11 days prior to his death including their response to his call that a man called Jordan had been in his home. We are continuing a second investigation into NWP’s contact with Davidson following his release from prison on licence in December 2016 in the period leading up to the murder of Mr Churton.
Our first investigation has found that Mr Churton called NWP on 14 March 2017 to report that two days earlier he had been threatened with a hammer in his home by a man called Jordan who tried to steal his television and stole his house keys. Later that day, a police officer called Mr Churton back to take further details about Jordan.
The officer recorded the incident as theft rather than as a robbery which may have influenced the level of threat and the risk assessment made in respect of Mr Churton. Details of a neighbour identified by Mr Churton who may have had more information about Davidson were not recorded and vulnerability factors were not correctly identified despite there being a number of issues to indicate Mr Churton was vulnerable.
The occurrence on the incident log was viewed by three further supervisors who also failed to identify that the circumstances amounted to a robbery and not a theft.
On 21 March, 2017, the same police officer called Mr Churton again to obtain further details about ‘Jordan’ and advised him that he should speak to his friends to try to find out the suspect’s details himself.
Mr Churton called NWP on 23 March 2017 to tell them the full name was Jordan Davidson. Four days later, he was found dead at his home and Davidson was arrested for murder.
IOPC Director for Wales Catrin Evans said: “This was a horrific murder and the responsibility for Mr Churton’s death lies squarely with Jordan Davidson. My thoughts remain with Mr Churton’s family and friends.
“Our first investigation found there were areas for improvement in police recognising Mr Churton’s vulnerability and ensuring all available information was recorded accurately. Police requesting a vulnerable victim of crime carry out a line of enquiry themselves to find out who the offender was, has, in my view, the potential to increase the risk to the victim.
“I am discussing the learning identified during the course of this investigation with North Wales Police. We are progressing our further enquiries into how the force handled Davidson after his release from prison and their liaison with other agencies.”
Following our investigation, NWP has agreed that a police officer has a case to answer for misconduct over allegations that the log in relation to the incident on 12 March was inaccurate, key information was omitted and that the officer’s risk assessment did not adequately take into account Mr Churton’s vulnerability.
The force also agreed a police sergeant has a case to answer for misconduct for allegedly failing to identify the urgency of the response needed in the circumstances in reviewing the officer’s actions. NWP will hold misconduct meetings for the two officers in due course.
In the light of our investigation, NWP has agreed to review their policies and procedures in recognising vulnerability, grading and resourcing and making use of intelligence. NWP has already undertaken work in some of these areas since referring Mr Churton’s death in March 2017.
While not amounting to misconduct, performance issues were identified for another police sergeant and an acting inspector for their supervision and they are being dealt with by the force by way of management action.
A call handler who took the initial call on 14 March 2017 left their role in August 2018. We are unable to make case to answer determinations in relation to their involvement with Mr Churton as a member of Police Staff.
We will consider publishing our investigation reports at the end of the second investigation and after any potential misconduct proceedings.
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