Report into killing of former Harlow resident Suzanne Brown: Community Safety Partnership calls for changes

News / Mon 30th Nov 2020 at 09:13am

MENTAL health services in Essex should form closer ties with police to address concerns over patients experiencing a deterioration in their health, a report has concluded.

The report commissioned by the Braintree Community Safety Partnership has also recommended care services across the county should seek to share information more regularly reports the Braintree and Witham Times.

The findings come following a review into the death of former Harlow resident Suzanne Brown in Braintree in December 2017.

Ms Brown, 33, was stabbed 173 times by her boyfriend Jake Neate at their home address in Mountbatten Court.

Suzanne Brown grew up in Harlow and went to Stewards Academy.

Mr Neate, who suffered with paranoid schizophrenia, was detained by police but deemed unfit to stand trial and later handed an an indefinite hospital order.

The review by the safety partnership found Mr Neate’s mental health had deteriorated in the weeks leading up to the killing of Ms Brown.

On the night of Ms Brown’s death, Mr Neate’s parents had contacted Essex Police multiple times to raise concerns about the welfare of their son and his partner.

It took several hours for officers to attend the property and they arrived to find Ms Brown had already been stabbed.

An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct carried out in 2018 found calls to the force control room were not categorised correctly, which led to the delay.

The safety partnership’s own review has concluded a formal process should be developed where police can notify mental health professionals of an individual’s deteriorating mental health.

It has suggested Essex Police and the Essex Partnership University Trust should install a mental health practitioner in the force control room who would have access to mental health records.

The partnership says this would have allowed call operators to better assess Mr Neate’s needs and could have ensured the police response time was quicker.

In response to the recommendations, an EPUT spokesman said: “There has been increased partnership working between EPUT and Essex Police over the last few years to provide a better response to people in crisis.

“EPUt mental health service nurses have been based in the force control room working alongside police colleagues since 2018 and since 2019 have been involved in all mental health related incidents.”

Essex Police says it is working with EPUT to introduce a referral process and is constantly reviewing how it responds to domestic incidents.

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