Hertfordshire officers given final written warnings over contact with Christie Frewin prior to her murder

Two offices from Hertfordshire Constabulary have been given final written warnings following a gross misconduct hearing relating to their contact with Christie Frewin prior to her murder.

Following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), an independently chaired panel found that PCs Gemma Walsh Beasley and Mike McDermott failed to adequately investigate allegations of harassment, stalking and assault by Alex Staines, on Ms Frewin. The officers were also found to have failed in their safeguarding of Ms Frewin and her three young children.

On 27 January 2021, Ms Frewin, 25, was found dead having been stabbed 17 times by Mr Staines. The previous day, police had spoken with them both after attending a domestic altercation between them.

Mr Staines, who was 30 at the time, had a warning marker for violence and Ms Frewin had a marker as a high-risk domestic abuse victim.

Four officers arrived on 26 January 2021 after Ms Frewin rang police. They established that she had arrived at Mr Staines’ flat to collect their children, aged seven, four and 18 months, however Mr Staines was refusing to allow them to leave.

Ms Frewin made a number of allegations that he had sexually assaulted her, stalked and harassed her and that he had left the children alone in the flat that day to follow her.

Despite this, the officers decided not to arrest Mr Staines that night and allowed the two youngest children to remain at his flat overnight.

On the same night, an inspector requested that Mr Staines be arrested on the basis of her allegations, however PCs Walsh Beasley and McDermott, who attended the initial report, stated they did not feel it was necessary to do so and Mr Staines was not arrested.

When he returned the children to Ms Frewin the following morning, Mr Staines forced his way into the house and murdered her.

Our 10-month investigation began in January 2021 and found the officers had breached the police standards of professional behaviour in relation to duties and responsibilities; orders and instructions; authority, respect and courtesy; and discreditable conduct.

They had failed to:

* safeguard Ms Frewin and her children

* demonstrate professional curiosity and follow up on reasonable lines of enquiry

* comply with the Hertfordshire Constabulary Standard Operating Procedure in regard to domestic abuse, including the use of body worn video, use of police intelligence systems and investigative opportunities.

PC Walsh Beasley also faced an allegation she breached the standard relating to honesty and integrity by providing false or misleading information to her senior officer when discussing the events of the domestic incident.

Following a hearing, organised by the force, the gross misconduct allegations were today (3 November) found proven and both officers received final written warnings.

IOPC regional director Graham Beesley said: “We offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Christie Frewin and all those who were affected by this terrible incident.

“While there is no suggestion that PCs Walsh Beasley or McDermott could have foreseen the tragedy that would follow the next day, they failed in their duty to safeguard Ms Frewin and her children.

“There was information to suggest Mr Staines was an increasing risk to both Ms Frewin and their children, and this information was not effectively reviewed or acted upon. They also appeared to take Mr Staines’ account of events at face value, where Ms Frewin’s account was repeatedly challenged and interrogated.

“There are historic public confidence issues in regard to police contact with victims of domestic abuse, particularly where a homicide occurs within a short time frame. This is why forces now provide detailed and comprehensive guidance for attending domestic abuse incidents, but these officers seemed unaware of it.”

As part of our investigation, we reviewed the available body worn video from officers at the scene, crime reports, safeguarding reports and obtained statements from those involved.

In a separate incident, both officers attended a work social in Covent Garden, London, and became engaged in a physical altercation arising from an argument about the IOPC investigation. This investigation was conducted by Hertfordshire’s professional standards department.

Misconduct was proven against both officers in relation to this incident, who were found to have breached the standards of professional behaviour relating to authority, respect and courtesy, and they both received further written warnings.

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