Essex Police response to IPCC Chambers report
On August 22, 2012, the Independent Police Complaints Commission
(IPCC) published the report of its investigation into the
interactions between Essex Police and the Chambers family in the
two years prior to the deaths of Christine Chambers and her
daughter Shania in Braintree, Essex.
Assistant Chief Constable Maurice Mason said: "On behalf of
everyone at Essex Police, I extend our deepest sympathies to the
family and friends of Christine and Shania Chambers, who were
brutally murdered by David Oakes in the early hours of June 6,
"Essex Police accepts the findings of the IPCC report, and
apologises for the failures identified there. Every police officer
involved in the case of Christine and Shania is devastated by their
passing. I too am devastated by their deaths. I became a police
officer to protect the vulnerable, and to put criminals like Oakes
"Essex Police is committed to working tirelessly to reduce the
likelihood of tragedies such as this from occurring again.
"On that terrible night last summer, Oakes killed his former
partner, Christine Chambers, and murdered his own 2-year-old
daughter, Shania, with a shotgun.
"The unbelievable inhumanity of these murders led Oakes to be
sentenced to two whole life prison terms – the most extreme
punishment which the British judicial system can impose.
"You would think that a man capable of such horror would have a
history of violence. Oakes did not: he had no convictions or
cautions for violence.
"In fact, the Independent Police Complaints Commission has found
that significant ‘information concerning Oakes’ violence towards
Christine Chambers was not available to the police or social
"The IPCC also stated that there was no information that Oakes
had access to a firearm. Essex Police acts promptly and decisively
whenever it receives credible intelligence about illegally held
"Domestic abuse is a crime which blights our society.
"Dealing with domestic abuse is often complex and challenging,
and places significant demands on the police and other
"In the last year, Essex Police assessed and managed over 32,000
incidents of domestic abuse. This means that around 88 domestic
abuse incidents are reported to the force every day of the year. On
a typical day, around a quarter of all Essex Police resources may
be involved in investigating, assessing and managing domestic abuse
"It is right that the protection of the vulnerable is at the
heart of British policing.
"In a striking statement, IPCC Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne
said: ‘There was an over reliance on the information given by Ms
Chambers and her assessment of the danger she faced.’
"Commissioner Cerfontyne continued: ‘Many women are reluctant to
pursue criminal proceedings against abusive partners, sometimes
even to seek help at all. Undoubtedly, this poses significant
challenges for the police and other agencies, but it is essential
in these situations that all possible is done to protect the
"Essex Police accepts the report of the IPCC and welcomes the
recommendation that processes should be developed for better
information sharing between police forces and agencies such as
social services, courts and solicitors. This is particularly
important in cases involving child custody proceedings, where
allegations of domestic violence have not been reported to
"It should be stressed that the IPCC investigation found that it
is impossible to say with any certainty that, if the force had done
things differently, Christine and Shania would be alive today. It
also found no evidence of misconduct by any of our officers.
"Essex Police has conducted a meticulous review of our practices
for managing and investigating domestic abuse cases.
"This review has led to an increase in staffing resources with
76 additional posts created in the force’s Public Protection teams,
including a dedicated Domestic Abuse Intelligence Team. This team
is responsible for providing specialist advice and for gathering
all available intelligence to assist front line officers responding
to domestic abuse incidents. The IPCC investigation clearly found
that Essex Police has completed or put in place actions to
strengthen its response to domestic abuse incidents.
"Most would say that a man who kills his former partner, and
murders his own two-year-old daughter, has lost all humanity. Our
courts have cast their judgement on Oakes. He will never leave
"But the horror of the murders committed by Oakes stays with us
"As police forces, across the nation, we must do everything in
our power to attempt to reduce the number of crimes such as
"Tragically, we will not be able to prevent every murder but we
must strive to do so.
"We owe it to Christine and Shania to learn everything we can
from this highly distressing case.
"We also want and need the help of every resident of Essex.
"If you know that your sister, neighbour, best friend, is a
victim of domestic violence, tell us about it.
"If you learn that a man in the pub is boasting of illegally
obtaining a firearm, Essex Police needs to know.
"This information is crucial to the force being able to make the
most accurate possible assessment of risk, and to take effective
steps to protect the vulnerable.
"Domestic violence is a crime which stains our society, and
Essex Police is committed to taking robust action to bring those
responsible to justice."