Findings issued from IPCC investigation into Gwent Police contact with the Buckley family before fatal house fire

26 Feb 2015 03:24 PM

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has found the response Gwent Police provided to the Buckley family following a report of criminal damage fell well short of the standard expected. Kim Buckley, her daughter Kayleigh and granddaughter Kimberley died in a fire at their home in Cwmbran on 18 September 2012. In July 2013 Carl Mills was jailed for life after being convicted of their murders. On 29 August 2012, Kim Buckley attended Cwmbran police station to report criminal damage at her home and alleged that Mr Mills, her daughter’s boyfriend, was responsible. A police constable took a statement and, along with a temporary police sergeant, took responsibility for dealing with the allegation.  

The IPCC investigation found that the allegation of criminal damage was not acted upon and that potential lines of enquiry were not followed. In relation to the police constable, the investigation found the officer did not identify, or act on, Mr Mills’ escalating behaviour including text messages that threatened harm, and his actual criminal acts of theft. The constable did not interrogate available databases or contact Social Services.

The acting sergeant failed to intrusively supervise the constable to check that investigatory tasks had been carried out. Following a misconduct meeting, the constable was given a written warning and the acting sergeant, the constable’s line manager, was given management advice. IPCC Commissioner for Wales, Jan Williams, said: “To lose one member of your family is devastating, but for the surviving members of this family to cope with the loss of three is beyond comprehension. “We will never be able to say whether their tragic deaths could have been prevented if different actions had been taken.

However what is clear from our investigation is that the level of service provided by police to the family in response to their allegation of criminal damage fell well below the standard they should have expected. “The officers responsible for dealing with the allegation failed to utilise information from previous incidents involving Carl Mills and the Buckley family, and failed to use the resources available to them. And at an organisational level, Gwent Police missed the wider issues which are common to domestic abuse cases, and failed to ensure intrusive supervision.”

The IPCC completed its investigation in December 2013 and shared its report with the force and Buckley family. Commissioner Jan Williams and the IPCC lead investigator also met with the chairs of the separate Domestic Homicide and Serious Case Reviews to pass on our findings. Gwent Police accepted the IPCC’s conclusions and committed to evaluating the systematic failings and implementing necessary improvements.

The IPCC has made its report, along with others from its investigations into Gwent Police’s handing of domestic abuse, available to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to assist in its inspections of the force.

NOTES TO EDITORS The IPCC’s independent investigation concluded in December 2013 but making public our findings has awaited publication of a Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) and Serious Case Review (SCR), which were also published separately yesterday.

IPCC reports are not subject to the same legal guidance as that for DHR and SCR reports which imposes anonymity.

An IPCC Commissioner’s Foreword and investigation report is available on our website.