'Gravely let down': Woman was sexually assaulted after 999 call handler told her 'you don't need the police'


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The Independent Online

A victim of domestic violence who was subjected to a serious sexual assault after a 999 call handler told her she didn't need police was "gravely let down", a watchdog has found.

In February, the woman called 999 and was transferred to a Hampshire police control room. Her call was abandoned, but the operator could hear a struggle and a man arguing. A control room supervisor called back around fifteen minutes later and told her “you don’t need the police” after questioning her, the Independent Police Complaints Commission found.

Subsequently, no officers were sent out to help her that night, and the next day police were told that she had been seriously sexually assaulted.

The IPCC also found that intelligence checks on her name, address and telephone number had not been carried out, despite notes on the call log saying that they had. If the checks had been carried out, they would have revealed that the woman was suffering domestic violence.

The IPCC said that the way police handled the call was "unacceptable".

IPCC Commissioner Mike Franklin said: "It is not possible to say with any certainty whether police attendance would have prevented this very serious sexual assault. However, what is clear is that this woman, who was in a vulnerable position, was gravely let down by Hampshire Constabulary and the control room supervisor when she needed their assistance.”

The IPCC also found that the control room supervisor in the Hampshire force should face internal proceedings for gross misconduct.

Hampshire Constabulary said that it had reviewed the initial call and referred the matter to the IPCC. Assistant Chief Constable David Pryde said: "We acknowledge the IPCC's report and accept its findings. In this instance, we failed to provide the appropriate level of service and for that I am deeply sorry to both the woman and her family.

"We work hard to equip our staff with the training they need and work is ongoing to improve information sharing and procedures for responding to domestic abuse situations where a history of violence exists. I hope that this in some measure will reassure our communities that we remain committed to protecting people from those who would cause them harm and that when we fall short of those standards we will always seek to learn and improve."