Hertfordshire Police officers guilty of gross misconduct after attack

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  • By Shivani Chaudhary & South Beds News Agency
  • BBC News, Hertfordshire

Image caption,

PCs Mark Coleman and Dominic Van Der Linden were found guilty by a panel in Welwyn Garden City

Two Hertfordshire police officers have been found guilty of serious misconduct following a complaint by a woman who was later stabbed in a ‘frenzied’ attack.

PCs Mark Coleman and Dominic Van Der Linden failed to properly deal with her complaint about her ex-husband’s breach of a non-abuse order.

The following month he stabbed her, causing serious injuries.

PC Van Der Linden was dismissed without notice and former PC Coleman would have been dismissed had he not resigned.

A misconduct panel heard that the woman, Mrs A, called 999 on August 20, 2021, reporting that her ex-husband had visited her home in Watford the night before in breach of his non-abuse order.

She also went to Watford police station and showed both officers the video doorbell footage.

PC Coleman called the man and he agreed to comply with the order and stay away.

‘Deliberately misled supervisors’

Defense barrister George Thomas said: ‘It is certain that a month later he (the ex-husband) tried to kill her in a frenzied attack with a knife.

“The officers did not handle her complaint properly at all. No copy of the doorbell footage was made, they didn’t take any affirmative action that would likely have gotten him arrested, and they didn’t refer the case to the domestic violence unit.

“They knowingly misled regulators about the doorbell footage and her willingness to file a complaint.”

Mr Thomas said the PCs both had access to records of the man’s previous violence and threats against the woman.

He said no steps were taken that could have prevented the subsequent attack.

The Welwyn Garden City District Court heard that PC Van Der Linden was the supervising officer and PC Coleman carried out five weeks of street work.

Barrister Dominic Lewis, for PC Van Der Linden, said only PC Coleman had spoken to the man on the phone.

He said PC Coleman told him the man denied he was there.

Mr Coleman, who has since left the force, did not attend the hearing.

Charmaine Arbouin, from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), said: “It is possible that the attack could have been prevented if officers had properly investigated the breach and carried out an appropriate risk assessment with the woman.

“The actions of the two officers have damaged public confidence in reporting these types of incidents. They have now been held accountable for their actions and will be placed on the excluded list, meaning they will not be able to serve in the police force in the future.”

The IOPC also found performance problems with a third officer, a sergeant, in relation to the quality of the supervision provided.

It was determined that the officer must undergo the “reflective practice assessment process”.

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