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Failures of police in domestic violence crimes criticised by a damning report by IPCC

Date: (21 May 2013)    |    

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The family of a woman strangled by her former boyfriend has called on the home secretary, Theresa May, to set up a public inquiry similar to that was done in Stephen Lawrence case to examine why victims of domestic violence were still not getting sufficient protection from the police and other government agencies.
A report by the police watchdog which is highly critical was published yesterday and the family of Maria Stubbings, said that nothing short of a formal inquiry was required to prevent another family having to face the failures by Essex police that contributed to Maria’s death.
Stubbings was strangled to death and dumped in the downstairs toilet of her home in Chelmsford, Essex, in December 2008 by her former boyfriend Marc Chivers. The police knew he had killed before, and that he had served time in prison for assaulting Stubbings.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has criticised Essex Police for not protecting Ms Stubbings.
Her brother Manuel Fernandez said he did not want her death to "be in vain". In her name the family would try to force a public inquiry into the failings of Essex Police and police forces as a whole into domestic violence in the hope that some protection could be gained for victims and future victims.
Since her death, there has been a degree of rhetoric about how things have changed. And yet there was a long list of cases like Maria's that continues to grow. He questioned how it was being allowed.
The family's call comes as a second IPCC report into Ms Stubbings' case was published. The first one had to be scrapped after inaccuracies were identified in 2011.
Ms Stubbings, a 50-year-old mother of two, had started a relationship with Chivers in early 2008 without knowing that he had returned to the UK after having served 15 years in jail in Germany for killing a previous partner.
She learned about his murder conviction after he was charged with assaulting her. He received a four-month jail sentence in October 2008 but as he had already served time on remand was released almost immediately. By this time Essex Police had removed a panic alarm from Ms Stubbings' home.
In its report, the IPCC says there was no assessment of the risk Chivers posed to Ms Stubbings or her teenage son. No one visited Ms Stubbings to review the safety plan and no actions were taken to try to ensure her protection," the report says.
The family's lawyer, Sarah Ricca, of Deighton Pierce Glynn, believes the cases illustrate institutionalised discrimination against women and it needed to be addressed by taking a Stephen Lawrence -style inquiry for women, she said.
Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, who is supporting the call for a public inquiry, said two women were still killed every week as a result of domestic violence. That statistic has remained the same since 1998.