Derbyshire’s Chief Constable tells staff they have ‘let down’ murder victims

Derbyshire’s Chief Constable has said officers have ‘let down’ murder victims and their families.

By Michael Broomhead
Monday, 9th August 2021, 10:56 am
Updated Monday, 9th August 2021, 10:58 am

In a video message to staff, Rachel Swann said ‘simple errors are being made’ and that in some cases ‘we are not doing what we should’.

Ms Swann – who became the top boss of Derbyshire Constabulary last year – said the force was not performing well with ‘dealing with vulnerability’ and it was ‘not acceptable’.

Gracie Spinks, Graham Snell, Martin Griffiths and Helen Hancock.

She called for ‘drastic changes’ in how the organisation operates and added: “Get it right first time.

“Because in the cases of those we have let down, they don't get any second chances.”

The force said it is ‘currently running a specific week on identifying and addressing vulnerability’.

According to a report by the BBC, when staff logged on to their work computers last week, they saw a screensaver with the faces of four people who died following contact with Derbyshire Constabulary, and a link to Ms Swann’s video.

Rachel Swann, Derbyshire’s Chief Constable.

The screensaver included images of Chesterfield’s Gracie Spinks, who died in June, and Graham Snell, who was murdered and dismembered in 2019.

There were also pictures of Helen Hancock and her partner Martin Griffiths, who were murdered in Duffield in 2020 by her husband after she had split up with him.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is currently investigating contact between Derbyshire Constabulary and Ms Spinks before she passed away aged 23.

Last month, an IOPC report identified a series of failings by the force before the murder of Mr Snell, 71.

While the watchdog concluded ‘no action could have been taken to prevent the deaths of Mrs Hancock and Mr Griffiths’ and found no case for disciplinary proceedings, two officers received ‘words of advice’ regarding the force’s ‘positive action policy and recording rationale behind decision-making’.

According to the BBC, several officers complained about the use of victims’ images in the screensaver.

One said: “Having these images displayed on my computer every time I turn it on isn’t conducive to the well-being of those staff who had to deal with those horrendous scenes.”

Another force employee said they were worried being shown victims’ faces would be ‘extremely upsetting’ and bring back ‘horrific’ and ‘gruesome’ memories for their colleagues.

It is understood the screensaver has now been replaced.

Deputy Chief Constable Kate Meynell said: “Derbyshire Constabulary strives to provide a quality service consistently to our communities.

“Identifying and addressing vulnerability in policing has become increasingly complex and sometimes unpredictable.

“However, as an organisation it is crucial that we identify and share learning that arises from our investigations and engagement with the public to ensure our officers and staff are equipped to respond to the increasingly complex and dynamic nature of policing.

“Internally, we are currently running a specific week on identifying and addressing vulnerability.

“The objective of this week is to increase awareness and share learning to ensure that we continually improve our services to the public and make sure our staff and officers have access to the latest information and good practice.

“As police officers and staff serving the county of Derbyshire it is important that we strive to provide a consistently good service and identify risk and vulnerability to ensure effective investigations and safeguarding is in place.”

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