Force accepts findings of investigation into domestic abuse response
Reports of domestic violence prior to a man throwing his girlfriend off a balcony were handled wrongly by Hertfordshire Constabulary, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has found.
Danielle Hammond was discovered on the ground unconscious after falling 45 feet from a balcony in 2015, sustaining a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.
Her boyfriend at the time, John McAleer, was jailed for 15 years in April 2016 after he was convicted of attempted murder.
Hertfordshire Constabulary received four domestic violence reports relating to the couple before the fall, one of which the IOPC said was graded wrongly by a police staff member.
On June 30, 2015, the force received a call from Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Ambulance Service reporting that a woman had fallen from a fourth-floor balcony. She was unconscious but still breathing.
Ms Hammond’s partner was subsequently arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
The IOPC reviewed call logs, radio transmissions and records kept by Hertfordshire Constabulary relating to prior reports of domestic violence between the couple, and interviewed officers about each incident.
One of the calls made by a member of the public had been graded wrongly according to the police call handling guidance, and the police staff member responsible for this was questioned.
She could not recall why she made the grading, which she acknowledged was “inappropriate under the circumstances”, and the investigation found insufficient evidence to show whether this was a deliberate action by the call handler or a mistake.
The IOPC also highlighted some areas of learning for Hertfordshire Constabulary, but did not make any formal learning recommendations as the force had made significant changes to the way it deals with domestic abuse since the launch of the investigation.
Hertfordshire Constabulary accepts the findings of the investigation.
A spokesperson said: “In January 2016, the force launched its Domestic Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit (DAISU). DAISU officers are specially trained to protect victims of domestic abuse and bring offenders to justice.
“We have also introduced a new model called THRIVE to call handling which helps call handlers to safeguard vulnerable victims by assessing threat, harm and risk.”