A POLICE watchdog has criticised how Gwent Police handled reports of domestic abuse from a woman who was later shot by her estranged husband in her Malpas Road hairdressing salon.

Rachel Williams was shot by her husband Darren Williams on August 19 2011.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) highlighted issues with call handling, record-keeping and awareness of force policy and procedures.

The IPCC upheld four complaints out of 13 that have been made, finding issues with the way the force handled Mrs Williams complaints of domestic abuse against Mr Williams.

At the time of the shooting Mr Williams had been bailed by the court on August 12 2011 after he had been charged with assaulting Mrs Williams on July 9. Gwent Police had opposed the bail.

Following the IPCC investigation Gwent Police has subjected two police constables and one sergeant to "management action" and said a police constable should be subject to "management advice".

A police sergeant retired during the investigation but the agency said there was sufficient evidence gathered for a case to answer for him.

IPCC commissioner for Wales Tom Davies said: "Gwent Police's handling of domestic abuse had been in the public spotlight since the Joanna Michael case (a St Mellons woman murdered by her partner) and the All-Wales domestic abuse conference held in June 2011.

"Despite the high awareness and public profile of the positive measures the force had put in place, our investigation into how this woman's concerns were dealt with highlighted issues with call handling, record-keeping and awareness of force policy and procedures."

He added that he hoped "appropriate lessons have been learned".

The force has accepted all of the IPCC's recommendations and suggestions for improvement, the commission said.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Prince said:"The death of two members of the same family and the serious injury to another, is a tragedy and our condolences are with the family. It is only right for agencies involved to examine their actions to ensure that, if faced with an extraordinary set of events again, they can ensure they have the best opportunities to intervene, to offer help and minimise the risk to those involved.

"We are grateful for the IPCC report and are fully implementing the recommendations. Gwent Police are continually striving to improve our response to domestic abuse incidents which includes increased and wider training around identification and log closure; increased sharing and scrutinising of domestic related incidents through the DMM and DACC system and also the implementation of the Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit which is made up of over 60 staff and ensures coordination of responses between relevant agencies to ensure better and more effective responses and investigation.

"We also welcome the Serious Case Review and the Attempted Domestic Homicide Review which allowed the agencies involved to take a step back and reflect and review on the events that took place; to learn from events and improve practice to do all they can to prevent future tragedies."