Essex

Braintree murders: Essex police and social services criticised

Christine Chambers and her daughter Shania
Image caption Christine Chambers and Shania, two, were found dead at their home in Braintree

Two reviews into the murders of a woman and her two-year-old daughter have criticised the actions of Essex Police and social workers.

David Oakes shot Christine Chambers, 38, and daughter Shania, two, at their home in Braintree in June 2011.

Oakes, 51, of Steeple, near Maldon, was jailed for life in May 2012, but died earlier this year.

The reports criticise the police for not sharing information. Essex Police said it was addressing the issues.

Missed opportunities

The reports were conducted by the Essex Safeguarding Children Board (ESCB) and the Community Safety Partnership (CSP).

They do not name Mrs Chambers and her daughter but the BBC understands they are about them.

The reports said the failure of social workers, health visitors and police domestic violence specialists to share information may have resulted in missed opportunities to take action before the murders.

But they added it was impossible to be sure the murders could have been prevented.

Image caption Oakes carried out the murders hours before a custody battle over his daughter

They also said police could have done more to work with Mrs Chambers to encourage her to report violence by David Oakes and put her in touch with support organisations.

The ESCB report said Essex social services should have looked at placing Shania in a high risk category when concerns about her mother's drinking were raised.

It said Mrs Chambers' ability to protect her child "appears to have been assessed after a discussion between her and the social worker in which everything she said was treated as truth despite the fact that there was evidence to the contrary".

Essex County Councillor Dick Madden, cabinet member for children's services, said: "We have already made significant changes within children's social care including the creation of three posts dedicated to assessing domestic violence notifications in conjunction with existing information already held, thus improving the way we manage referrals."

Det Ch Supt Simon Coxall, head of crime and public protection at Essex Police, said: "The new chief constable has taken personal oversight of the force's response to domestic abuse incidents since joining Essex Police in May.

"Work continues to be progressed to look at how we can focus on bringing more perpetrators to justice in cases which are frequently difficult. A key part of this includes looking at our work with other agencies."

Oakes shot his daughter at point-blank range and shot Mrs Chambers three times before turning the gun on himself.

Oakes and Mrs Chambers had been due in court as part of the custody arrangements for Shania at the time of the killings.

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