Refuge responds to reports that Greater Manchester Police missed opportunity to arrest Michael Cope

Today it was reported that domestic violence homicide perpetrator Michael Cope tried to hand himself in to Greater Manchester Police prior to Linzi Ashton’s murder. Cope was wanted for assaulting and raping Linzi.


Sandra Horley CBESandra Horley CBE, chief executive of national domestic violence charity Refuge, says:


“Another woman who experienced domestic violence is dead.  Linzi Ashton, the young mother of two children, was brutally murdered by her ex-partner Michael Cope last year, after experiencing a torrent of abuse at his hands.

In the months leading up to her death, Linzi reported Cope for rape and assault, and told police officers that he had threatened to kill her. I was stunned by reports that Greater Manchester Police turned down the opportunity to arrest Michael Cope after his solicitor contacted the force saying he wanted to give himself up.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating Greater Manchester Police’s response to Linzi, and I look forward to hearing its findings.

Greater Manchester Police has been criticised on a number of occasions in the past for failing to protect victims of domestic violence. After Sabina Akhtar was killed by her husband in September 2008, an inquest found that the force – along with the CPS and Manchester social services – made “significant and serious failings” in its response to her. Following the death of Katie Boardman in October 2008, the IPCC found “a number of failings” by Greater Manchester Police. The IPCC investigation into the death of Clare Wood in 2009 again found “systemic failures” by Greater Manchester Police, with some officers demonstrating “a shocking lack of understanding about the nature of domestic violence”.

How many more women must die before we see real change?  How many more children must grow up without their mothers because the police – and other state agencies – fail to offer support and protection?  How many more times must we hear that ‘lessons have been learned’?

Every week two women suffer Linzi’s fate in England and Wales.  Two women every week.  This figure has not changed in over a decade.  Something is seriously wrong.

Refuge will continue to speak out for the dead in order to protect the living.  We are calling on the Government to open a public inquiry into the response of the police and other state agencies to victims of domestic violence.  We need to understand why so many women and children are still not getting the support and protection they deserve.”

Join Refuge in calling for a public inquiry. Click here to sign our petition now.