England

Kevin Nunes murder: 'Poor morale' and drinking in witness protection unit

Kevin Nunes Image copyright Staffordshire Police
Image caption Kevin Nunes was shot five times and his body was found in a country lane

A confidential report highlighted concerns about officers drinking alcohol on duty and poor morale among staff looking after protected witnesses following a gangland murder in 2002.

Kevin Nunes, 20, a suspected drug dealer from Wolverhampton, was found dead in Pattingham, Staffordshire.

Five men jailed for his murder were cleared on appeal in March 2012.

The report was published following Freedom of Information requests made by the Express and Star newspaper.

The Staffordshire Police report from November 2006 concluded the "sensitive policing unit" needed "radical restructuring".

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The redacted copy of the 2006-07 Management Review said a complaint by an officer "exposed failings in the structure, procedures, working practices, culture and management" of the unit, which was later disbanded.

Image copyright Staffordshire Police
Image caption Much of the Staffordshire Police report was redacted

The report detailed failings including a breakdown in trust between officers, concerns over officers drinking, poor morale and friction between staff members.

'No cover-up'

It found a decision to change staff assigned to protected witnesses in the Nunes murder case created "open resentment" and "unrest" within the unit.

It also led to complaints by the witnesses against one officer.

The review was commissioned following an informal meeting between the head of the unit and the head of professional standards at Staffordshire Police at the team - Supt Jane Sawyers, who is now Staffordshire's Chief Constable.

It said the review team concentrated in particular on the unit's involvement with the Nunes investigation, "which was the main reason why DI [name redacted] decided to approach Supt Sawyers".

In March 2012 five men convicted of Mr Nunes' murder were cleared by the Appeal Court.

The court heard concerns about the credibility of the key prosecution witness were not disclosed to the defence.

Two of the men cleared have begun legal action against the force.

Image caption Staffordshire Chief Constable Jane Sawyers, who was formerly the force's head of professional standards

Staffordshire Police said the "sensitive policing unit" was disbanded in 2007 and the management of protected witnesses had been carried out on a national basis since 2012.

Last March, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said four senior officers, including Chief Constable Sawyers, would not face misconduct hearings over claims they failed to declare evidence in relation to the shooting of Mr Nunes.

The watchdog said it found "no evidence of a cover-up or of wilful omission".

Nick Baker, Deputy Chief Constable in Staffordshire, said: "The content of the report shows that the actions of some of those in the unit 10 years ago is not one that now, or at the time, met the high standards we expect of officers and staff working for Staffordshire Police.

"Any mistakes or misconduct were of a professional, not criminal nature, and tackled according to the force's disciplinary process, as set out in the review."

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