The murder of law graduate Zara Aleena has been described as “a grave reminder of the price women pay for Government policies” following the release of a report into probation failings which led to her death.
Women’s safety campaigners have said that a lack of funding is partly to blame for the litany of errors which left Jordan McSweeney “free” to kill the 35-year-old last year, just nine days after he was released from jail.
This comes after a report by chief inspector of probation, Justin Russell, outlined how McSweeney was not treated as a high-risk offender or recalled to prison as quickly as he should have been.
Andrea Simon, director of End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), said the report shows that the justice system is struggling to protect women after “a decade of austerity policies”.
The charity boss said: “This grave and appalling failing on the part of the Probation Service constitutes yet another way in which the criminal justice system is catastrophically failing to protect women and girls and prevent further violence and abuse.”
“The Probation Service, as with so many of our public services, is buckling under the pressure of a decade of austerity policies and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic – not aided by the disastrous structural reform of the
“Zara’s murder is a grave reminder of the price women pay for Government policies.”
Jordan McSweeney was jailed for life with a minimum term of 38 years for the murder of law graduate Zara Aleena (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Claire Waxman, London’s Victims’ Commissioner, said the “damning review” highlights a “litany of errors and oversights” and “paints a clear picture of a disjointed system that is struggling to properly protect the public”.
“There was a near total failure to adequately risk-assess McSweeney, and no holistic approach taken to look at his past,” she said.
“These are truly tragic circumstances, and reflect a justice system that is on its knees.
“Excessive workloads, low pay, and low morale have led to a huge shortage of staff in Probation, and Government must address these failings if they want to keep the public safe.”
Ms Waxman expressed condolences for Ms Aleena’s family.
It also outlines how McSweeney missed multiple probation appointments and should have been recalled to prison two days before he killed Ms Aleena.
McSweeney had 28 past convictions for 69 separate offences over 17 years, including burglary, theft of a vehicle, criminal damage, assaulting police officers and attacking members of the public while on bail.
He also had a history of violence towards ex-partners and was handed a restraining order for an offence against a woman in 2021.