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Abuse recommendations follow tragic death

A domestic Homicide Review published today (Monday, July 13) into the tragic death of Jessica Patel has made key recommendations on the support available around domestic abuse and so-called ‘honour-based' violence.

Jessica was murdered at her Middlesbrough home in May, 2018 by her husband who had subjected the 34-year-old to abuse throughout their nine-year marriage.

Mitesh Patel was subsequently convicted of murder at Teesside Crown Court, and sentenced to life with a minimum term of 30 years.

A Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) is an independent report, commissioned by the Middlesbrough Community Safety Partnership in line with Home Office guidance.

The review seeks to establish what lessons can be learned from the way local agencies and organisations worked individually and together.

The DHR report puts forward a number of recommendations for Middlesbrough Community Safety Partnership including:

  • Review the effectiveness of information provided to family, friends, work colleagues and diverse communities about recognising the signs of domestic abuse and where they can go, if necessary anonymously, with such information 
  • Health agencies should ensure professionals are trained in recognising abuse, being alert to indicators and understanding the links between mental health and domestic abuse
  • Agencies must review policies and training in relation to domestic abuse and recognise the barriers that victims of domestic abuse may face
  • Agencies must review policies and training to recognise and respond to so-called ‘honour-based' violence
  • NHS England to consider issuing guidance to GP practices to ensure patient care is not impacted upon by other pre-existing relationships
  • The Home Office to help develop best practice for small family-owned and run businesses with guidance on how to deal with disclosures, suspicions or indicators of domestic abuse

Councillor Mieka Smiles, Middlesbrough Council's Executive member for Culture and Communities and Chair of the Community Safety Partnership, said: "Jessica's family have suffered a great deal and we wish to express our sincerest condolences to them.

"We are also enormously grateful to them for their involvement in the Review at such a difficult time.

"Their invaluable input has helped to paint a fuller picture of Jessica's life, and gave her the voice - which was taken from her - to disclose the extent of abuse she suffered at the hands of her perpetrator.

"Jessica was not involved with many agencies prior to her death but we learned that there is more that we can do both locally and nationally for victims of domestic abuse, specifically those from BAME communities.

"That includes increasing understanding of ‘honour-based' violence and ensuring that family, friends, employers and the wider community know how to recognise the signs, report their concerns and support those in need.

"The Middlesbrough Community Safety Partnership and all agencies involved in the review fully accept these findings, and work is already under way on implementing the recommendations."

Ged McManus, Independent Chair and author of the report, said: "I would like to add my personal condolences to Jessica's family and my respect for her family for the fortitude and positive attitude they have shown throughout the process. 

"Jessica was not well known to services in Middlesbrough before her death.

"This report does not point to failures of services but it does suggest ways in which services can be improved and the risk for other potential victims in the future can be reduced.

"I hope that that her family can find some comfort in the fact that there will be improvements made as a result of the report."

In a statement Jessica's family said: "We hope this review will help other victims, those closest to them and the wider public to recognise the various forms and signs of abuse and will remove any barriers, be it cultural or otherwise, to seeking help and getting the support they need.

"As a family this review was an extremely painful process but we recognise the importance of highlighting Jessica's story to provide a voice for her and others that may be suffering in silence.

"So that this act of evil is not repeated, we encourage everyone to open their eyes, to ask questions and never assume everything is ok."

The full report, executive summary, action plan and Home Office response letter can be viewed on the Domestic Homicide Review page.

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