Watchdog investigates police over contact with woman killed in Bradford

<span>Flowers left in Bradford city centre at the scene of where Kulsuma Akter died earlier this month.</span><span>Photograph: Dave Higgens/PA</span>
Flowers left in Bradford city centre at the scene of where Kulsuma Akter died earlier this month.Photograph: Dave Higgens/PA

Two police forces are being investigated over contact they had with a woman before she was stabbed to death in front of her baby, the police watchdog has said.

Kulsuma Akter, 27, was fatally stabbed as she pushed her baby in a buggy in Bradford city centre on Saturday 6 April. Habibur Masum, 25, has been charged with her murder.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said on Friday that West Yorkshire police and Greater Manchester police (GMP) were being investigated over contact they had with Akter in the weeks before her murder.

The watchdog said officers from West Yorkshire police were contacted 10 days before the fatal stabbing over a report that Akter had received death threats.

Officer were deployed to the incident on 28 March but no suspect could be found, according to the IOPC.

This information was then shared with GMP. Investigating officers will now examine what steps were taken to protect Akter and whether GMP made inquiries into any alleged breach of bail, the watchdog said.

The IOPC regional director Emily Barry said: “Our thoughts are with Ms Akter’s family and friends, who have lost a loved one in tragic circumstances, as well as all those affected by this deeply distressing incident. I would like to acknowledge and thank members of the public who were present at the scene and who tried to assist Ms Akter.

“It is only right that a thorough investigation takes place to understand the nature and extent of the police interaction with Ms Akter.

“This will be carried out entirely independently of the police and will consider whether there may have been any missed opportunities to safeguard her in the days and weeks before she died.

“We have met with Ms Akter’s family members to explain our role and update them on our investigation. We will continue to update them as our investigation continues.”

Akter had been living in Oldham, Greater Manchester, after arriving in the UK from Bangladesh two years ago as a student, along with her husband.

Akter’s mother, Monwara Begum, told the BBC she was “in shock” at her daughter’s murder, adding: “She was my youngest daughter and I adored her greatly.

“When she moved to the United Kingdom I was alone, but Kulsuma would call me every day by video. The only day I didn’t hear from her was the day she was attacked.”