A police watchdog probe found two officers failed to safeguard a mother before she was murdered by the father of their children.

Christie Frewin, 25, was found dead on January 27, 2021, after she was stabbed 17 times by her ex-boyfriend Alex Staines in Hertfordshire.

Staines, who was 30 at the time, had a warning marker for violence and Ms Frewin had a marker as a high-risk domestic abuse victim, a report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said.

The day before Ms Frewin was killed, four police officers visited Staines’ flat after Ms Frewin reported her ex, who she had been with for five years, for not letting their three children leave.

Ms Frewin alleged Staines had sexually assaulted, stalked and harassed her and that he left the children alone in the flat that day to follow her.

The IOPC said PCs Gemma Walsh Beasley and Mike McDermott, who attended the initial report, told their inspector “they did not feel it necessary” to arrest Staines, despite the inspector “requesting” they do so upon hearing Ms Frewin’s allegations.

The following morning, Staines visited Ms Frewin in Welwyn Garden City to drop off their two youngest children.

Staines forced his way into Ms Frewin’s home before murdering her with a kitchen knife and fleeing alone. Ms Frewin was found “not moving” by one of her children.

Staines, also of Welwyn Garden City, was arrested later that morning on suspicion of murder and jailed for a minimum of 22 years.

Borehamwood Times: Christie FrewinChristie Frewin (Image: Hertfordshire Constabulary)

Although the IOPC accepted PCs Walsh Beasley and McDermott could not have “foreseen” Ms Frewin’s murder, a ten-month investigation concluded they “failed to safeguard” her and her children, demonstrate “professional curiosity and follow up on reasonable lines of enquiry”, nor comply with the force’s standard domestic abuse operating procedure.

PC Walsh Beasley was also found to have provided “false or misleading information” to her senior officer.

The officers were given final written warnings following a gross misconduct hearing that ended on November 3).

IOPC regional director Graham Beesley said there are “historic public confidence issues” regarding police contact with domestic abuse victims, adding: “This is why forces now provide detailed and comprehensive guidance for attending domestic abuse incidents, but these officers seemed unaware of it.”

Borehamwood Times: Hertfordshire Constabulary headquarters in Welwyn Garden CityHertfordshire Constabulary headquarters in Welwyn Garden City (Image: Google Street View)

Assistant Chief Constable Matt Nicholls said safeguarding vulnerable people is Herts Police’s top priority. He added that while the murder could not have been foreseen, “PCs Walsh-Beasley and McDermott failed to comply with the constabulary’s procedures and guidance on attending domestic abuse incidents”.