Refuge responds to Domestic Homicide Review into death of murdered woman Sarah Gosling

Sarah Gosling was murdered by her partner Ian Hope in February 2012, after experiencing years of abuse at his hands.  This week, the Domestic Homicide Review into her death was published by Safe Newcastle.


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


“Less than a week after Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) highlighted serious failings in the police response to domestic violence, yet another review finds that a number of state agencies missed vital opportunities to protect a vulnerable woman.

Sarah Gosling was murdered by her partner Ian Hope in February 2012, after experiencing years of abuse at his hands.  Prior to her death, Sarah had contact with a number of state agencies, including Northumbria Police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), health agencies and children’s services.  Safe Newcastle’s Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) into Sarah’s tragic death has found that these agencies now have important lessons to learn.

Northumbria Police attended the addresses where Sarah and Ian lived ten times between November 2010 and February 2012. The review found that police officers failed to contact key witnesses to gather additional information about the abuse Sarah was experiencing, and that they failed to correctly record incidents.  The police also failed to challenge the CPS’ decision to charge Ian with a lesser offence, despite his history of serious violence.  The review also found evidence of poor communication between children’s services, and a failure by health agencies to proactively consider the risk of domestic violence to Sarah.  Alarmingly, Sarah’s health practice did not even have a domestic violence policy in place at the time.

This review paints a shocking picture of a system in disarray.  Sadly, Sarah’s story is not unusual.  Domestic violence kills two women every week in England and Wales – and in too many of these cases, state agencies fail to provide vulnerable women and children with support and protection.  State failure is a national problem – a problem of systemic proportions.  That’s why Refuge is calling on the Government to open a public inquiry into the response of the police and other state agencies to victims of domestic violence.

How many more women and children need to die before we see real change?  How many more times must we hear that ‘lessons will be learned’?  How many more reports will it take to save lives?  Please sign our petition calling for a public inquiry and make a difference now.”