Hertfordshire Police officers guilty of gross misconduct after attack

Two Hertfordshire Police officers have been found guilty of gross misconduct over 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 over the breach of a non-molestation order by her ex-husband.

The following month he stabbed her, causing serious injuries.

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

A misconduct panel heard that on 20 August 2021, the woman, Ms A, dialled 999 and reported that her ex-husband had visited her Watford home the previous evening in breach of his non-molestation order.

She also attended Watford Police Station and showed both officers the video doorbell footage.

PC Coleman telephoned the man and he agreed to abide by the order and stay away.

'Knowingly misled supervisors'

Barrister George Thomas said: "It a matter of record that, a month after, he [the ex-husband] attempted to murder her in a frenzied attack using a knife.

"The officers failed to deal at all properly with her complaint. No copy was made of the doorbell footage, they failed to take positive action, which would have been likely to arrest him and they failed to refer the matter to the domestic abuse unit.

"They knowingly misled supervisors about the doorbell footage and her willingness to make a complaint."

Mr Thomas said the PCs both had access to records detailing the man's previous violence and threats towards the woman.

He said there had been a failure to take steps that could have prevented the subsequent attack.

The tribunal in Welwyn Garden City heard PC Van Der Linden was the supervising officer and PC Coleman was five weeks into street duties.

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

He said PC Coleman had told him that the husband denied he was there.

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

Charmaine Arbouin, of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), said: "It's possible the attack could have been avoided if the officers had properly investigated the breach and carried out an appropriate risk assessment with the woman.

"The two officers' actions damaged public confidence in reporting incidents of this kind. They have now been held accountable for their actions and will be placed on the barred list, meaning they cannot be employed in policing in the future."

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

It determined that the officer should undergo the "reflective practice review process".

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