IPCC investigation finds Gwent Police let Gary Suller down
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has concluded its investigation into the contact Gwent Police had with Gary Suller before his murder and found no misconduct by individual officers or staff but did find organisational issues.
Mr Suller had reported a number of incidents involving Barry Bowyer to Gwent Police prior to the discovery of his body at his home in Cwymbran on 6 September 2011. Mr Bowyer was convicted of murder at Cardiff Crown Court today.
IPCC Commissioner for Wales Tom Davies said: "I would like to offer my condolences to Mr Suller's family and friends at what must be a very difficult time for them.
"The responsibility for Mr Suller's death is solely that of Bowyer and he has received a life sentence for that terrible crime.
"However, our investigation found that Gwent Police let Mr Suller down and he did not receive the service he should have done. He took proper action in informing Gwent Police of the incidents he was the alleged victim of and they had a duty of care towards him.
"Mr Suller put his faith in Gwent Police believing all the incidents he reported to them would be investigated effectively and dealt with appropriately.
"It is evident that opportunities were lost for Gwent Police to take a more proactive approach in dealing with the problems that Mr Suller was experiencing.
"The same concerns were highlighted following the inspection carried out by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary into Gwent Police's response to anti-social behaviour related issues.
"Gwent Police has responded positively to the recommendations made by the IPCC and the HMIC and are implementing changes to address these."
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
Mr Suller reported eight of these incidents to Gwent Police calling 999 and all of these were graded properly and responded to within an appropriate time. There are no concerns in relation to how each call was initially graded and responded to.
However, the IPCC investigation found that if the incidents had been linked as they were reported this would have had an impact on the initial grading and response escalating these to emergency calls requiring an immediate response.
Because incidents were not linked with each other Gwent Police were also not able to consider the incidents as behaviour that was escalating and should have triggered actions so that there would have been a coordinated approach to dealing with them.
When it was decided to issue a Harassment Warning in May 2011 the initial attending police officer did take a proactive approach when attempting to serve this. However other officers, including a sergeant, did not appear to be aware of the processes surrounding this and the importance linked to getting the Harassment Warning served on Barry Bowyer as soon as practicable.
During some shifts there were no attempts to serve the notice and the only action taken was to defer it for the next shift. There was an opportunity to serve this warning when Bowyer was taken into police custody on 13 May 2011, but this was not done.
Due to the length of time involved in attempting to serve the warning the paperwork associated with it was passed between officers and sergeants at the beginning and end of every shift and was eventually mislaid.
Bowyer was on court bail when he was arrested and charged with causing the death of Mr Suller. One of his bail conditions was the requirement for him to attend Cwmbran police station on a daily basis. There were no records held for him from the date he was bailed up until he attended to sign on 29 August 2011 when a Bail Signing Record was then created for him.
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