Essex Police has been ordered to improve the way it handles emergency phone calls after a woman was fatally stabbed 173 times.

Suzanne Brown, 34, died after she was attacked by boyfriend, Jake Neate, at their home address in Mountbatten Court, Braintree.

Mr Neate was arrested by police at the scene and charged with murder but he was later deemed unfit to stand trial.

He was ordered to undergo indefinite hospital treatment for his ‘psychotic’ state following a trial of facts.

Essex Police referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) following the incident on December 16, 2017.

The IOPC says it found no case to answer for misconduct against individual call handlers or police officers involved in the response.

However, it has recommended Essex Police introduce a measure for control room staff to be notified when emergency calls go past their target response times.

It also says the force should provide callers with a grading and estimated police attendance time to urgent incidents.

The watchdog had been investigating the way in which Essex Police handled and graded phone calls made by Mr Neate’s mum just hours before Ms Brown’s death.

Mrs Neate contacted Essex Police around 9.30pm on December 15 to express her concerns about her son and Ms Brown.

She made a follow up phone call later that evening but when officers arrived at the address shortly after midnight, they discovered Ms Brown with serious injuries from which she later died.

The IOPC found the initial call made by Mrs Neate had been given a priority rating which typically offers a response time of 60 minutes. Investigators say the call should have been graded as an emergency which would have seen a response time of 15 minutes instead.

Regional Director Sarah Green, said: “Our sympathies remain with the family of Suzanne Brown and all those affected by her tragic death.

"Our investigation found the initial call to the force control room had not been categorised correctly as a domestic incident. This meant associated processes, including risk questions being asked that may have aided the response, were not triggered.

"The investigation found that the decision in relation to the grading based on the information known at the time by the call handler was consistent with local and national guidance.

“We identified there was no measure in place to highlight calls to control room staff which had exceeded their target response times and have asked the force to act on this learning.

“We have also recommended that Essex Police ensures its force control room staff provide callers with an associated grading and an estimated time for when officers will attend. This would bring the force in line with national guidelines.”

The IOPC says management action has been taken against three members of staff in the control room following the incident.

Essex Police declined to comment on the findings.