Women’s Aid responds to IOPC’s investigation into Staffordshire Police’s response to Justene Reece’s reports of stalking
Monday 29th April 2019
An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found Staffordshire Police officers missed the “bigger picture” of Justene Reece’s controlling and abusive ex-partner’s offending. Justene took her own life following a sustained campaign of harassment by her ex-partner, Nicholas Allen, who was jailed for ten years in June 2017 after admitting manslaughter, engaging in coercive or controlling behaviour, and stalking. For further information see BBC News Online or the IOPC website.
Adina Claire, Acting Co-Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:
“It is shocking that Staffordshire Police failed to cross-reference half of their recorded incidents of stalking by Nicholas Allen against Justene Reece. Domestic abuse is rarely an isolated incident, yet far too often our criminal justice system still focuses on single incidents of physical violence. This failure to recognise the severity of repeated and intensifying controlling behaviour means that the police are failing to provide victims, like Justene Reece, with the support and protection they desperately need.
“It can be a matter of life or death that the police see the full picture of domestic abuse; this must include recognising the dangers of controlling behaviour and post-separation abuse as well as understanding the devastating impact that this abuse has on the victim. Two in five survivors supported by domestic abuse services in 2017/18 experienced stalking and harassment from their partner or ex-partner. It is absolutely imperative that lessons are really learned from the findings of this IOPC investigation across all police forces. That’s why we welcome the government’s proposal to appoint a Domestic Abuse Commissioner; they must ensure that recommendations from investigations into fatal domestic abuse cases are shared and implemented across all forces. Police leaders must continue to invest in robust and ongoing domestic abuse training for all police professionals – from call handlers through to detectives – co-delivered by specialists like Women’s Aid to ensure that all staff can identify and understand the dynamics of domestic abuse, including coercive control, and use this to properly support victims and build a case against a perpetrator. Only by recognising the patterns of control and abuse and providing a good response can we help to save women’s lives.”
If you are worried about your relationship or that of a friend or family member, you can contact the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.womensaid.org.uk.
For more information, please contact the Women’s Aid press office: 020 7566 2511 / [email protected]