Police and Crime Commissioner acknowledges police failings in Luisa death

Luisa Mendes. NNL-160520-134321001
Luisa Mendes. NNL-160520-134321001

Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe has given his views on the verdict given at the inquest into the death of Luisa Mendes who died in Lillington in 2012.

The inquest took place at Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington over three weeks and concluded on Friday.

The jury returned a narrative verdict which read: “On 25 October 2012 between 10am and 11am, Luisa Mendes was pronounced deceased at Briar Close.

“The death was due to a catastrophic bleed to the abdomen caused by a rupture to her spleen. The rupture was determined to be as a result of a deliberate application of force by a third party.”

Ms Mendes, who was aged 44, died in October 2012.

On the evening prior to the discovery of her body, she had disclosed in a phone call to Warwickshire Police that she had been assaulted. The call was graded as a ‘priority’, which required police to attend within one hour. However no officers were sent until the next morning.

Following her death, two separate independent reviews were conducted: the Independent Police Complaints Commission examined how Warwickshire Police dealt with the call for assistance, while an independent Domestic Homicide Review has also been published by the South Warwickshire Community Safety Partnership.

This examines how agencies interacted with Ms Mendes and each other, and what lessons can be learned to assist those facing similar situations in future.

Commenting at the conclusion of the inquest, Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said:“I join the police and the other agencies involved with the reviews in offering my sympathies to Luisa Mendes’s family and friends. This was a tragic case and Warwickshire Police has fully acknowledged that there were failings in the way they responded to her call for assistance, which fell below the standards that both the force and the public would rightly expect. A formal apology has been made by Warwickshire Police to her family and significant work has been carried out to minimise as far as is possible the chances of similar circumstances occurring again.

“Since 2012, Warwickshire Police and partner agencies have also worked hard to improve the way in which they interact with each other when dealing with vulnerable people, alongside improvements to the services which support victims of crime. My office has also played a strong role in the implementation of a new county-wide strategy to end violence against women and girls, as well as advocating the establishment of the Warwickshire Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). This opened last month to deal with child safeguarding cases and, by September, will extend to cover all adult safeguarding matters. This will represent another significant milestone in ensuring the action plan from the Domestic Homicide Review is carried out.

“While progress to date has been significant, there is no room for complacency and work to improve the way vulnerable people are protected from harm is continuous. The Home Office has recently asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to further review elements of the police treatment of domestic abuse cases and vulnerable victims as part of its annual inspections. This will provide a welcome further opportunity to ensure that what we do here in Warwickshire is to the highest of standards and is informed by best-practice elsewhere in the country.

“The public can also be assured that protecting vulnerable people will underpin the whole of my first Police and Crime Plan when I publish it later this year. Similarly the Chief Constable has stated that he is committed to ensuring that Warwickshire Police is ‘great’ at protecting vulnerable people. I will hold him and the force to account on that, as well as continuing to work with partner agencies to ensure that victims can be confident in the service and support they receive.”