Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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Learning identified from investigation into police contact before Staffordshire stabbing

Learning from our investigation into Staffordshire Police’s response to incidents before a teenage girl was stabbed by her ex-boyfriend is being used by the force to help officer training.

Our investigation began after a referral from the force when the girl was stabbed outside All Saints Church, Burton, early on 23 January last year (2018). She had been reported missing the previous evening.

A 20-year-old man was sent to a Young Offenders Institution for three years and two months for wounding and possession of a knife following conviction at Stafford Crown Court last June.

Failings identified by our investigation led to four officers receiving management action after we assessed whether their actions had followed force policy on domestic abuse, stalking and harassment.

IOPC Regional Director Derrick Campbell recently said:

“Although opportunities were missed that could have led to improved welfare and safeguarding of the girl, the escalation in seriousness of the incidents in January 2018 could not reasonably have been foreseen. Thankfully the outcome of the attack was not even more serious. Staffordshire Police has recognised that more could and should have been done, and a positive from our investigation is that the force is incorporating learning from it in officer training.”

Evidence gathered by our investigator indicated that complaints the girl had been pestered by her ex-boyfriend were reported to police early in December 2017. An incident at that time was classified as stalking and harassment.

After interviewing the girl, a police constable left a voice message telling the man not to contact her. It was not established that the message was ever received and our view was that it should have been delivered in person.

We found that another constable’s decision not to investigate a further incident in January 2018 as harassment, despite knowing ‘words of advice’ had already been given to the man, was inadequate. We considered that a sergeant should have recognised this when reviewing the decision.

During our nine-month investigation, we obtained accounts from officers and a witness, and reviewed relevant force policy and procedure.


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