The daughter of a woman killed by a ‘violent and controlling’ man has welcomed misconduct cases being brought against 19 officers and staff of West Midlands Police – after a string of failings were identified into the force’s investigations.
The findings of an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into West Midlands Police’s contact with Jacqueline Oakes, prior to her murder in Birmingham by partner Marcus Musgrove, have been revealed today.
The investigation centred on the police response to 19 reported incidents involving Ms Oakes and Musgrove before he killed her at Edgbaston in January 2014.
Failings have been identified by 19 officers and staff, including detective sergeants and constables to police constables and control room operatives.
It will result in two sergeants having to attend misconduct meetings personally, whilst the IPCC has recommended the other officers and staff should receive management action to address the failings.
At the time of Ms Oakes’s death there was an outstanding arrest warrant for Musgrove’s arrest, issued on January 10 2014 for breaching bail conditions with regard to contacting with Ms Oakes, and following previous alleged attacks.
Despite this, unsuccessful attempts to arrest Musgrove were not made until two days later. On January 14, Musgrove went to Ms Oakes’ flat at Century Tower in Dollery Drive, Edgbaston. CCTV footage showed Musgrove arriving at the building and leaving several hours later. She was later found brutally murdered.
Detectives didn’t carry out adequate checks before granting eventual killer bail
The IPCC concluded that three detective constables and two detective sergeants should face misconduct cases for either failing to complete or ensure completion of appropriate intelligence checks, not ensuring they were adequately informed before determining that Musgrove should be granted bail, or not appropriately reviewing Ms Oakes’s risk level.
Ms Oakes’ daughter, Jenny, has now instructed civil liberties specialists Hudgell Solicitors to act on her behalf, as possible legal action is considered against the force.
She said: “I am glad that the investigations have led to a large number of West Midlands Police officers and staff facing further scrutiny over their actions with regard to the many incidents where my mother was clearly in danger, yet was not given the support she needed.
“My mother was someone who would do anything for anybody, yet when she was making calls for help and needed the police to take all steps to protect her, I feel they just completely let her down. Minimal investigation and communication by police would have made it clear she was at risk.
“I will never be able to understand how such a slack attitude to a situation of potential escalating domestic abuse can be taken by so many people at a police force. It is shocking.”
Lawyer considers human rights case against force for failings
Andrew Petherbridge, a civil liberties specialist at Hudgell Solicitors, said “We welcome the IPCC findings announced today and note that recommendations have been made around better identifying vulnerable people on police systems and better addressing any associated risk.
“We also welcome the IPCC recommendations for 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.
“Sadly though, such changes can only come far too late for Ms Oakes, and the lessons learned cannot bring back a much-loved mother of four.
“Failures to complete adequate intelligence checks, to follow policies regarding information gathering in alleged domestic incidents, and not gathering sufficient evidence before granting bail do not make good reading and, to most, sound like horrifyingly basic errors.
“It terms of legal action it is still early to say what course it could take, but we will certainly be looking at the potential breach of Ms Oakes human rights with regards to failings identified to properly investigate these 19 incidents which were reported over a nine month period.”
In the IPCC statement, 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.”
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.
Musgrove was jailed for life, and ordered to serve at least 18 years after he was unanimously convicted of murder at Birmingham Crown Court in 2015.
His trial heard he befriended Ms Oakes in April 2013 but quickly grew violent and controlling. She had made a number of complaints to police but later withdrew them.
The 40-year-old, of Lichfield Road, Aston, showed no remorse during his two-week trial.