Apology to the Van Hagen family by the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police
Suzanne Van Hagen was a victim of domestic violence and died in tragic circumstances on 8th February 2013. On behalf of West Midlands Police, I wish to apologise for a number of failings by the force in the handling of Suzanne’s case, both before and after her death, and to acknowledge the immense, additional distress that this has caused to Suzanne’s family.
We deeply regret a number of missed opportunities to investigate Suzanne’s circumstances more widely and to engage with her. We could and should have done more to protect Suzanne and her daughter from the abuse they were suffering.
To compound the family’s pain, they were let down by a failure to properly investigate Suzanne’s death. I am deeply sorry for the many failings identified in 2017 when the Force conducted a full review of the investigation. I particularly recognise how hurtful and distressing the inaccurate press release issued in March 2013 must have been for the family. This influenced the subsequent press coverage and an incorrect narrative was created about Suzanne’s death that was difficult to shift.
Suzanne’s family have had to engage in a long and arduous fight to understand the full truth about what happened to Suzanne. We deeply regret this.
I can only hope that these words provide some reassurance to Suzanne’s family that the force has reflected on, and learnt from, its serious shortcomings.