Frustration over delay of crucial report into alleged failings by police and social workers

Surrey Comet: Che Cruz was allegedly let down by social workers Che Cruz was allegedly let down by social workers

Nearly two-and-a-half years on from the murder of 37-year-old Charito Cruz, a crucial report into alleged failings of police and accusations of a belated cover-up by social workers is yet to come to light.

Asad Niazi was jailed for life in December 2012 for hammering Ms Cruz to death in front of their daughter shortly after being released from police cells for smashing her phone with the same hammer.

Ms Cruz’s baby daughter had been referred to social services twice before her murder in 2011 because of Niazi's behaviour.

But the investigation into allegations the referrals were ignored by social workers, and claims by former Kingston Council director Olivia Butler that there was a cover-up of these mistakes afterwards, is still waiting to be reviewed by a Home Office quality assurance panel.

Two social workers were referred to their professional body when the claims were made.

An internal review found on a social services manager did not think one referral was serious enough to warrant a home visit.

A second time in September 2011 the manager took the documents home to read but did not read the referrals.

The Health and Care Professions Council says it is waiting for the report to be concluded before starting its own investigation, allowing both social workers to carry on working, although they have both left Kingston Council. 

Abigail Pickering, Ms Cruz’s only UK-based relative through her cousin’s marriage, said: "It has been a long time.

"I’m the nearest relative of Charito’s in the UK, if they [Ms Cruz’s family] heard anything, I would have heard. And I haven’t heard anything.

"I think we should have been informed. They should have told us what was going on.”

The independent domestic homicide report by campaigner Davina James-Hanman is understood to have been handed into the Home Office last summer for a Quality Assurance Panel to review.

She warned of a likely backlog when she spoke to the Surrey Comet last February when she began her investigation.

The report should have been completed in six months according to Government guidelines.

A Home Office spokeswoman denied there was a backlog of cases but has refused to give any more information about the report.

She said: “In the beginning we weren’t getting as many as we are now. There’s no backlog. Each case is decided on its own merits."

Kingston Council leader Liz Green said: “It’s just as frustrating from our perspective. We have conducted our own internal report and we have made recommendations and acted on them.

“We want to be able to tell people about it, but we can’t until it is released."

Ms James-Hanman was unavailable for comment this week.

She told the Surrey Comet in February 2013 that her investigation would be
“fearless”.

She said it would take "three or four months" to complete because it had to go to the Quality Assurance Panel.

She said: "It meets four times a year. And there’s a backlog."

What is the Quality Assurance Panel?

The Home Office’s Domestic Homicide review Quality Assurance Panel assesses DHR report standards and identifies good and poor practice and any lessons that can be learned at a national level.

It is chaired by Mark Cooper, head of the violent crime unit, and is made up of statutory and voluntary agencies.

Its current membership, according to the Home Office website, is: Department for Communities and Local Government, Independent Police Complaints Commission, Association of Chief Police Officers, Metropolitan Police, National Offender Management Service, Welsh Assembly, Crown Prosecution Service, Department of Health, Department of Education, Refuge, Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse (AAFDA), Southall Black Sisters and black feminist organisation IMKAAN.

The panel meets every two months on average, with the next meeting scheduled for March 11.

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