Calls to Improve Domestic Violence Procedures

  • Following the death of Maria Stubbings, her family are calling for more protection for victims of domestic violence. Sad Silhouette

    The enquiry in to the case has highlighted errors with the police that could have prevented her death.

    The family of a woman murdered by her ex-partner following complaints to the police are calling for a public inquiry into how complaints of domestic violence are handled.

    See details of Maria Stubbings case and errors below.

    Since the death of Ms Stubbings, there have been two other fatal domestic violence cases in Essex, which has prompted her family to demand a public enquiry from home secretary Theresa May into the way police and other agencies respond to such cases.


    Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Nick Alston, said domestic abuse was the only specific area of focus in his police and crime plan, and would welcome any efforts to develop a national best practice for police forces and partner agencies on tackling domestic abuse.

    He said:

    In Essex, over 80 domestic abuse incidents are reported to police every single day.

    Whilst there are individual examples of good and professional work, the police response to domestic abuse incidents both in Essex and across the country needs to be better than it was or currently is.

    Domestic violence charity Refuge has backed the call for the home secretary to launch a public inquiry.

    Chief executive of Refuge, Sandra Horley, said:

    Every week in this country two women are killed as a result of domestic violence. That's two women too many.

    Maria Stubbings

    Maria Stubbings had been assaulted by her ex-partner previously, and he had been sentenced to prison because of this. A panic alarm was installed in her home whilst he was in prison, but was removed before he was released, despite this being the time she would be most vulnerable.

    Marc Chivers was also a convicted murderer who had been released from a German prison less than a year before after being sentenced for the murder of his then girlfriend. This increased the knowledge held on him to escalate the case to a high risk situation.

    The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) enquiry shows that there was no assessment as to the risk he would pose on Ms Stubbings and her children on his release.

    Two months after his release, Ms Stubbings reported a burglary to the police, where Chivers had stolen medication from her home that she was dependent on.

    There was then no follow up to her case until a week later, when Chivers answered the door claiming that Maria was on holiday.

    Her body was found the following day in the downstairs toilet room, and her son had been in the house with him unaware and at risk the entire time.

    The report has shown that the time Ms Stubbings was given the most support was when he was in prison for abusing her, which is she was safest; when he was released there was little to no support for her.

    As a result of the IPCC report, three officers have now been given “management advice” – a low level of admonishment under the police disciplinary code.

    Ms Stubbings' daughter, Celia Peachey, said:

    She was crying out for help and was led to believe it was on its way. But it never materialised and she was left isolated and in fear of her life.

    As for my little brother, we're lucky he's alive. He was in the house with our mum's body hidden under a pile of coats in a downstairs toilet, and our mum's killer.

    The failings and errors by Essex police are monumental. Since my mother's death there has been more murders in the same jurisdiction and that's why we are calling for a public inquiry.

    Image source: 

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