Councillors concerned Met not taking domestic violence 'seriously' following murder

From left to right: Maida Vale councillors Nafsika Butler-Thalassis, Geoff Barraclough, and Rita Begum

From left to right: Maida Vale councillors Nafsika Butler-Thalassis, Geoff Barraclough, and Rita Begum - Credit: Archant

Maida Vale’s Labour councillors have raised concerns about how seriously the Met treats domestic violence cases, following the murder of Yasmin Chkaifi by her ex-husband Leon McCaskie. 

Ms Chkaifi, 43, was repeatedly stabbed by McCaskie, 41, on the morning of January 4. She was pronounced dead at the scene. 

McCaskie also died, after being hit by a car driven by a passer-by

Ms Chkaifi’s son, Zayd Bakkali, 18, has since spoken publicly about how he feels let down by the lack of protection his mother was provided by the police following abuse she suffered from McCaskie. 

Yasmin Chkaifi, who was fatally stabbed in the street in Chippenham Road, Maida Vale, by her abusive ex-husband

Yasmin Chkaifi, who was fatally stabbed in the street in Chippenham Road, Maida Vale, by her abusive ex-husband - Credit: PA

Cllr Geoff Barraclough, the shadow cabinet member for business and planning for Westminster Council and a Maida Vale councillor, said: “We’re worried that Yasmin’s case is part of a longstanding pattern of the Met not taking domestic violence seriously.  

“There was a warrant out for her murderer’s arrest for breaching a stalking prevention order but the police failed this basic task. Leon McCaskie should have been in jail and not walking the streets.” 

Cllr Nafiska Butler-Thalassis, shadow cabinet member for adult social care and public health, believes questions remain about how the system deals with domestic abuse.  

She said: "For example, we know that Leon McCaskie had attacked Yasmin many times before. Was he arrested and charged at those times? Why didn't he receive a custodial sentence? There are concerns that the entire criminal justice system doesn't regard domestic abuse with the seriousness it deserves." 

Cllr Rita Begum said that Ms Chkaifi’s murder is part of a growing trend of domestic violence, something she believes has been exacerbated by the pandemic. 

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She said: “Due to the lockdown, people are not able to see their family and friends and communicate, and they’re stuck with the person they’re in with. And particularly if you’ve got an abusive partner, they can do anything to you.” 

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the contact the Met had with Ms Chkaifi prior to her death, as well as its response following the warrant for McCaskie issued on January 4. 

The IOPC regional director for London Sal Naseem said: “Our thoughts are with all those who knew Yasmin. Our investigators will be in contact with her family in the coming days to make sure that our inquiries include everything they need and deserve to be thoroughly and independently investigated.”