Tyne & Wear

Shiney Row burning car inquest told offender monitoring hit by cuts

Quyen Ngoc Nguyen Image copyright Family Handout/Northumbria Police
Image caption Quyen Ngoc Nguyen was a 28-year-old mother of two

A Northumbria Police unit monitoring offenders struggled under "unmanageable workloads" before a young mother was murdered, an inquest has heard.

The body of Quyen Ngoc Nguyen, 28, was found in a burning car at Shiney Row, near Sunderland, in August 2017.

Her killers Stephen Unwin and William McFall, who were out of prison on licence, were jailed in April 2018.

Retired Det Ch Insp Jackie Coleman said staff cuts meant risk management officers had to take on more cases.

Unwin, of Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland, and Mcfall, of Blackpool, who met while they were in prison for separate murders, are now serving whole-life terms.

Ms Coleman said because of cuts the number of offenders that each risk management officer was dealing with was going up.

Image copyright Northumbria Police
Image caption Stephen Unwin (left) and William McFall were give whole-life terms

She said that meant there was less time to concentrate on individual case files.

She also told the inquest that civilians were brought in to "save money" and that they had taken the jobs of experienced officers.

Earlier Det Insp Edward Small told the hearing that from April 2015 "flags" - meaning relevant intelligence - that appeared on the record of prisoners released on licence were no longer passed on automatically to relevant authorities, including the probation service.

The change, aimed at reducing workload, meant officers had to pass the flags on to authorities themselves at their own discretion.

Coroner Derek Winter has said the inquest will consider whether the killers' level of risk was properly assessed and whether information relevant to a "potential recall" of the men prior to the murder was brought to the attention of relevant parties.

The inquest, at Sunderland Coroner's Court, continues.

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