Two police officers accused of misconduct following a fatal stabbing are to face a public disciplinary hearing, the police watchdog has announced.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the move represented the first ever use of its powers under the 2002 Police Reform Act to order a public misconduct hearing.
The decision to direct the Warwickshire force to hold the public hearing follows an independent investigation into the unlawful killing of a 24-year-old mother of three in Rugby two years ago.
Colette Lynch was fatally stabbed on February 3, 2005, and an IPCC inquiry into the circumstances leading up to her death found that police had failed to treat an incident of domestic violence two days previously in accordance with existing policies.
Ms Lynch died of stab wounds following a disturbance in Garyth Williams Close, Rugby, and a 35-year-old man, Percy Wright, was arrested and charged with her murder.
He was convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and made subject to a hospital order under the Mental Health Act.
Announcing details of the misconduct hearing and ruling that it should be held in public, IPCC Commissioner John Crawley said: "In reaching my decision I have given the most careful consideration to all of the representations made, both those in favour and those opposed to this course of action.
"The focus of this discipline hearing will be upon the actions of the two police officers at an incident of violence two days before Colette’s death.
"The statutory purpose of holding a discipline hearing in public is to maintain confidence in the police complaints and conduct system."
Mr Crawley added: "The commission has set a high threshold for the test of the gravity of cases to be heard in public and I am satisfied that the alleged circumstances of this case meet that test.
"Taking all of these points into consideration I have therefore directed Warwickshire Police to hold the first ever misconduct hearing in public."
The original IPCC investigation found that over the two days leading up to the death, Warwickshire Police failed to treat a violent incident at Ms Lynch’s home involving Wright in accordance with its domestic violence policy.
Officers also failed to record the incident as a crime and arrest Wright at that time or to respond appropriately to reports that he was at large and carrying knives.
A spokesman for Warwickshire Police said the force believed that the IPCC’s move was unnecessary.
"Given that the full circumstances surrounding the death of Colette Lynch will be publicly explored at an inquest into her death, we felt that to have a separate public hearing that examined the role of police officers in isolation was unnecessary," the spokesman said.
"We are not against the full facts of this case being heard in public. Indeed we welcome public scrutiny. We believe the inquest provides the opportunity for the actions of all the public services involved in this case to be examined."