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A written warning was not ‘sufficient sanction’ for police officer who failed to investigate domestic abuse

DOMESTIC abuse charities said today that a written warning was not “sufficient sanction” for a police officer who failed to investigate threats against a woman who was later killed by her husband.

A disciplinary hearing found that PC Finley Clark “failed to undertake any adequate investigation” into reports by Linda Vilika that her husband had threatened her via messages on Whatsapp and recorded her in her home. 

Eight days after the report was made to Ms Clark and another officer, Ms Vilika was found dead.

Her husband, Wilfred Jacob, was convicted of her murder in January 2020. The court heard he was “jealous and controlling” and killed his wife by stabbing her in the back.

At a hearing this week at Chelmsford Civic Centre, it was also found that Ms Clark had failed to examine Mr Jacob’s electronic equipment and had provided an inaccurate report on Ms Vilika’s allegations. She was given a written warning.

Deputy chief constable Pippa Mills said Ms Clark’s actions “fell below the standards we expect of all of our officers and staff.”

But Centre for Women’s Justice founder Harriet Wistrich said that a warning was not a “sufficient sanction for neglect of duty,” especially given “the terrible consequences of a failure to act.

“So many murders of women could be avoided if police used the powers they have to intervene when women are threatened or subject to violence,” she said.

“Perhaps the only way that police will learn is if they face consequences for their failure to act.”

Women’s Aid chief executive Farah Nazeer agreed that a warning did not go far enough.

“We need a complete overhaul of the current ‘risk-led’ approach to tackling domestic abuse, as this current focus means … opportunities to help women escape domestic abuse earlier have been lost,” she said. 

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