Rape victim 'failed by police'

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The Independent Online

A police force failed to properly investigate an allegation of rape and let the victim down by not providing appropriate support, an independent investigation has found.

As a result of the findings two officers from South Wales Police have been given written warnings and another has received words of advice, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said.



The IPCC said the victim made an allegation of historic rape and abuse she suffered as a child to Sussex Police in December 2005 and this was passed on to officers in South Wales where the alleged offences happened.



After concerns were raised by the victim in the media concerning their investigation, her complaint was referred to the IPCC in April 2008.



An investigation by the watchdog found officers failed to investigate the allegations with due diligence, taking several months to obtain witness statements and failing to keep agreed appointments.



This created unnecessary upset to the victim and witnesses, and undue delays.



The IPCC also found a failure to provide her with the appropriate quality of service, and level of witness/victim liaison and support.



A complaint that the officer dealing with her case failed to show understanding or knowledge of the Crown Prosecution Service policy with regard to prosecuting rape cases was also upheld.



The IPCC said that, as a result, a detective constable and detective inspector have been given written warnings and a detective sergeant received words of advice.



IPCC Commissioner Tom Davies said: "This woman has been let down by basic policing errors and lack of adequate support.



"Allegations of the nature made to South Wales Police are difficult to investigate, but that is no excuse for not getting the basics right or providing the support needed to help people through exceedingly difficult circumstances.



"It is vitally important people can come to the police with confidence that serious matters such as these are properly investigated.



"Failures of this kind, though, only serve to make the experience more traumatic than it already is and dent the public's confidence.



"There were clear failures in some parts of the investigation by individual officers.



"Some of these must be seen within the context of severe staffing issues at this particular police station and the lack of support given to the investigating police officer.



"The IPCC has agreed that two officers be given a written warning and a third officer words of advice.



"We have also made a number of recommendations to the police and that - we hope - will improve the quality of investigation and care experienced by those making allegations in future.



"In order that the outcomes of the IPCC are transparent we have published a redacted investigation report on our website at http://www.ipcc.org.uk"





Chief Superintendent Tim Jones, head of professional standards at South Wales Police, said: "We fully accept that we failed to provide adequate levels of care to the victim in this instance.



"The initial investigation was not of the standard that we would expect in cases of this of nature and, in response to the IPCC investigation, the officers involved have been dealt with appropriately via internal disciplinary procedures.



"We take these findings very seriously and have worked closely with the IPCC and the CPS to take corrective action in response to the recommendations that have been made.



"When these shortcomings came to light, we undertook a robust re-investigation into the original allegation made by the victim.



"Valuable lessons which have been learnt from this investigation have informed improvements to the services we provide to victims of crime, particularly to those who report historic incidents that have taken many years to come to light.



"We would like to assure victims of all crimes that we always aim to provide them with the highest levels of care.



"Over the last few years, we have moved on a great deal in this particular area, and the support now provided to victims of sexual assault in South Wales has been recognised as some of the best that is available throughout England and Wales."





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