Independent Police Complaints Commission
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Misconduct cases for 19 police officers and staff over prior contact with Birmingham murder victim
An IPCC investigation into West Midlands Police contact with Jacqueline Oakes prior to her murder in Birmingham has concluded that 19 officers and staff have a case to answer for misconduct.
The evidence suggested that there was also a case to answer for gross misconduct for one, now retired, officer. No misconduct was identified for a further 20 officers and staff whose actions were investigated.
Following a referral from the force IPCC investigators examined 19 reported incidents involving Ms Oakes and her ex-partner Marcus Musgrove, before he killed her at Edgbaston in January 2014.
The IPCC investigation made recommendations around identifying vulnerable individuals like Ms Oakes on police systems, so that officers can better address any associated risk. Further recommendations were aimed at improving the understanding of the force’s domestic abuse policy amongst frontline staff, and around the level of supervision and training for control room staff members.
IPCC Commissioner for the West Midlands, Derrick Campbell, said: “This is an extremely sad case and one of the biggest investigations the IPCC has carried out in terms of the number of officers whose actions were examined and its complexity.
“How police handle vulnerable victims like Jacqueline Oakes is of the utmost importance and the concerns raised warranted an independent investigation to ensure public confidence. West Midlands Police clearly also recognised this and has fully co-operated with our investigation.
“We are pleased that the force has accepted our conclusions in terms of those officers and staff who we felt had a case to answer for their actions, and are satisfied that our recommendations for organisational improvement are being addressed.
“I would like to again express my sympathy to the family of Jacqueline Oakes and hope that the completion of our investigation has answered some of their questions and brings some further measure of closure.”
After examining hundreds of police documents and carrying out dozens of interviews the IPCC’s lead investigator formed the opinion that there was a case to answer for misconduct for:
- Two control room staff for failing to complete adequate intelligence checks or not adhering to domestic abuse policy by obtaining sufficient information from Ms Oakes following a reported disorder in August 2013, now believed to have involved Musgrove and Ms Oakes.
- Two police constables for either not completing an appropriate risk assessment in line with the force domestic abuse policy or failing to acknowledge the significance of and properly review available intelligence. This followed the police response to three separate incidents in September 2013.
- Three police constables and one sergeant for failing to complete or ensure the completion adequate enquiries, including intelligence checks, following an alleged domestic incident reported by a third party in December 2013.
- A member of control room staff for not accurately recording an incident reported by Ms Oakes on 7 January 2014, a police constable in the control room for not completing appropriate intelligence checks, and another police constable for failing to identify available intelligence and correctly recording the incident after Ms Oakes visited a police station the following day.
- Three detective constables and two detective sergeants for either failing to complete or ensure completion of appropriate intelligence checks, not ensuring they were adequately informed before determining that Musgrove should be bailed, or not appropriately reviewing Ms Oakes’s risk level.
- Two police constables and a sergeant for not adhering to domestic abuse policy, by failing to complete the appropriate risk assessment after Ms Oakes gave police a statement on 10 January 2014 in which she described a further incident when Musgrove had breached his bail conditions.
It was agreed with the force that two sergeants should attend misconduct meetings and the other officers and staff should receive management action to address the failings identified.
No action will be taken against a sergeant who retired before evidence suggesting gross misconduct was identified. This was in respect of alleged failures to ensure an adequate investigation by following all reasonable lines of enquiry and to appropriately assess the risk to Ms Oakes.
At the time of Ms Oakes’s death, there was an outstanding arrest warrant for Musgrove for breach of bail conditions on 10 January 2014. The IPCC‘s lead investigator identified significant organisational failings at that time in the way that West Midlands Police managed outstanding arrests of this nature, which resulted in arrest attempts not being made until the afternoon of 12 January.
Since then the force has introduced a more formalised process for dealing with such outstanding arrests.
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