Suffolk Police: IPCC Warnings After Murder

Two police officers have been given written warnings by Suffolk Constabulary following Independent Police Complaints Commission investigations into their conduct in responding to an emergency call that a disturbance was taking place at a flat in Ipswich.

The two police constables swiftly attended a property in Victoria Street, Ipswich after a 999 call was received on 4th of August 2009 reporting a disturbance involving a woman screaming in fear. The officers failed to gain a response by knocking on the door of the property and left the scene without taking any further action. The body of Rosalyn Hunt was found at the flat five days later. Two people have since been convicted of her murder.

The main IPCC investigation concluded that:

· the officers failed to satisfactorily establish whether there was a disturbance at the flat; 

· they should have gained entry to the property, by force if necessary, as they were empowered to do in order to potentially save life and limb; 

· the officers failed to make any follow up enquiries, despite knowing the occupant was vulnerable, and they could and should have done more to ensure the welfare of Ms Hunt; 

· another officer wrongly closed the incident without ensuring it was known the occupant was safe and well; 

· the emergency call received at 3.32 pm on 4 August was correctly graded and allocated, and police responded quickly arriving at the address only eight minutes later; 

· it was not possible to determine whether or not Ms Hunt was still alive at the time officers first attended.

A further independent investigation by the IPCC concluded the two officers gave inaccurate accounts of their actions when outside the flat in stating that they had returned to the address after speaking to a man nearby. In fact the officers drove off after a brief conversation with the witness. The officers have explained they made a mistake in their statements and got the sequence of events wrong.

Both officers state when they arrived at the address on Victoria St on 4th August there was loud music playing from a flat above. They entered the communal area to the flats and one officer knocked hard on the door while the other went to the car park to look through a window but the curtains were drawn. An officer lifted the letterbox at the front door but could not see or hear anything untoward. They gave an update to the police control room and after several minutes left the area.

The main IPCC investigation concluded in April 2010 and an additional investigation into the officers' statements was completed in April this year, but issuing findings has awaited the outcome of misconduct proceedings. At misconduct meetings run by the force earlier this month the two police constables received written warnings. The officer who closed the incident prematurely has been given management advice by a senior officer at Suffolk Constabulary. The IPCC has met with Ms Hunt's family to explain our findings and has addressed a number of complaints they made relating to Suffolk Police. 

On 9th August 2009 a friend of Ms Hunt called police concerned that she had not seen her for a few days. Police attended the Victoria St flat again and after gaining entry found her body. Paul Clarke and Lorraine Thorpe were convicted of the murder of Rosalyn Hunt at Ipswich Crown Court in August 2010 and were both given life sentences.

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