Response to IPCC investigation into Kerry Power case
24th November 2016
“Like anyone who reads the IPCC report into Kerry Power’s involvement with Devon And Cornwall Police prior to her death, Network for Surviving Stalking was horrified by the many ways in which she was let down.
We send our heart-felt condolences to Kerry’s son, mother, family and friends. Kerry’s murder should not have happened and it makes us very angry that she’s not alone. Kerry is one of hundreds of women in the UK who have been stalked and murdered by their ex-partner. If we are serious about preventing domestic homicides, we need a dramatic overhaul in the way the criminal justice system identifies and deals with stalking. Training of all criminal justice staff on stalking is essential.
Whilst we understand that Devon and Cornwall Police have since changed their practices, we are extremely concerned and disappointed that information provided to us following a Freedom of Information Request we submitted in 2012 was, in the words of the IPCC, “ arguably evasive and misleading.” Here’s what we asked the force (along with every other UK force too) and what their responses were:
1. Do all your frontline Officers receive training about stalking?’
Devon & Cornwall Constabulary have delivered training for the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 force wide, which incorporates stalking, since its inception. All front line officers have been trained in the package.
2. Have you issued your frontline Officers with the ACPO Stalking Risk Screening Tool/11 questions?
In 2009 Devon & Cornwall Constabulary introduced Domestic Abuse Stalking and Harassment training (DASH) and that incorporates the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) ACPO Stalking Risk Screening Tool. All front line officers have been trained in that package from 2009.
3. How long have your front line Officers been receiving training on stalking for?
Devon & Cornwall Constabulary also delivered a ‘Public Protection’ training package for vulnerable adults which incorporates the stalking element too.Protecting Vulnerable People which includes the victims of stalking is a priority for the Force.
The prevention and investigation of stalking and harassment offences forms an integral part of the Domestic Abuse Strategy for the Force. The DASH risk assessment is an essential tool used by all frontline staff to assess the vulnerability of all victims to such crimes. Once such offences have been identified the Force will ensure that positive action is taken in all cases. The Force also works with partner agencies and victim support services working within the domestic abuse to identify and deal with these offences.
So back in 2012, on the strength of what they told us, we assumed Devon and Cornwall Police were one of the most advanced in the country when it came to dealing with stalking (some forces sent us FOI responses that said they trained no staff on stalking.)
So in yesterday’s IPCC report, we were shocked to read “Whilst the response (to the FOI) does not directly set out whether the ACPO Stalking Risk Screening Tool had been ‘issued’ to front line officers, it implies all front line officers had received training around it. The force did indeed deliver DASH training to frontline officers between 2009 and 2011 and examination of training material indicates the ACPO Stalking Risk Screening Tool did feature within the PowerPoint for that training. Nevertheless, this investigation has identified the ACPO Stalking Risk Screening Tool had not been fully implemented at the time the FOI response was drafted; the 11 questions did not feature within the DASH forms in circulation and were not being used by frontline officers.”
As a small charity representing stalking victims and working to improve services and support, we pride ourselves on good working relationships with the police and other criminal justice agencies. We are extremely disappointed to have been misled in this way on such an important issue; the IPCC repeatedly references the forces’ lack of training on stalking in their own investigation into the way Kerry Power was dealt with. Freedom of Information Requests are an essential tool when it comes to holding organisations to account – which is part of the democratic process – if we’re unable to trust the information submitted by a police force, it is extremely worrying indeed.”
Read the full IPCC report here: