Twenty-seven year old Gemma Hayter’s body was found on 9 August 2010 on a disused railway line in Rugby. Her murder and the abuse that she suffered beforehand were truly abhorrent, committed by people she believed to be her friends. The five people who caused her death have been prosecuted three of whom are serving sentences for murder and two for manslaughter. Gemma was a vulnerable adult who was known to a number of agencies throughout her life. Warwickshire Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board commissioned a Serious Case Review to examine in detail the way that services worked with Gemma and to make recommendations to better safeguard individuals in the future. The report concluded that while there was no evidence that Gemma’s murder could have been prevented or predicted, if she had received and accepted better support, she may have lived a better life and been less likely to fall into the company of people who presented serious risks. Though there was evidence that she was regularly exploited by people who knew her and she was known to many agencies, no single agency had a full picture of her life and the level of risk she was exposed to. This case raises wider issues nationally about community safety for single adults who may be vulnerable to disability based harassment, hate or mate crime and exploitation.
- The need for community safety strategies to address disability based harassment, hate or mate crime and exploitation.
- The need for awareness, information and guidance on mate crime.
- Risk assessments to be undertaken routinely and used to underpin decision-making in relation to undertaking reassessments and the closure of cases.
- The importance of strategies to help manage disengagement of service users from services.
- Recognition that the safeguarding process and the threshold of significant harm relies on the presence of a single large trigger and fails to identify people at risk in the community where the evidence is through a larger number of low level triggers.
- The need to work preventively in order to give people living in the community, and may be vulnerable to mate crime, the skills to keep themselves safe.
- The need for a systematic approach by agencies to give or request feedback following referrals or contacts to report concerns.