Refuge responds to the finding that the murder of Natasha Trevis could have been prevented

Natasha Trevis A domestic homicide review into the tragic death of Natasha Trevis, 22, has found that her murder could have been prevented.

Natasha, a mother of three, was stabbed 26 times by her partner Junior Saleem Oakes in August 2012 as she was trying to escape from a taxi. The domestic homicide review, conducted by Birmingham Community Safety Partnership, found the perpetrator had come to the attention of West Midlands Police 25 times before Natasha’s murder, including for a string of offences against his ex-partner and her family. Evidence of “escalating repeat offender behaviour” had been recorded since 2003.

Despite this, services provided to Natasha and her three children were “not effective in keeping them safe” and “agencies had not taken the threat that the perpetrator posed to the victim seriously”. The review concludes that, had police and agencies worked together and in accordance with good practice, “it might have been possible to prevent the death of the victim, and thus the loss of their mother for the children”.

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

“My thoughts go out to the family of Natasha Trevis at this incredibly difficult time. Yet again, a frightened young woman has been catastrophically failed by the very agencies designed to protect her. How many more women have to die before police and state agencies take domestic violence seriously? Why, after so many damning reviews and reports, are we still witnessing such an appalling response?

Let’s be clear – Birmingham Community Safety Partnership found that Natasha’s death could have been prevented. They found that some decisions made were “seriously flawed”. The perpetrator had come to the police’s attention on 25 separate occasions – for harassment, threats to kill, and four assaults on a previous partner. He had strangled, beaten, imprisoned and terrorised Natasha. He had kidnapped her children. But police decided to take no further action.

Agencies knew Natasha was terrified. Her three young children were all subject to child protection plans. And yet, they continued to enable Oakes to control her. She was required, for example, to attend child protection conference meetings in his presence. This would have been extremely frightening and intimidating for her – and her family have rightly questioned this arrangement. In addition, Natasha had had a termination and had allegedly told social services not to inform Oakes, knowing that this would increase her risk. This is currently under investigation. But the homicide review has found that a social worker referred to the termination in Oakes’ presence. Within a week, Natasha was dead.

The Community Safety Partnership review states that Natasha was “not really listened to or heard by agencies”. At Refuge we know only too well that Natasha’s experience is not a one-off. Two women are killed by a current or former partner in this country every week – and many of these women were not heard or listened to either. This is a national disgrace.

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. We need to put an end to this culture of inaction. Please add your voice to our campaign by signing our petition here.”

To read the domestic homicide review, click here.