Police ask experts to try and recover missing CCTV of woman who claims she was raped in custody

Computer forensics experts asked to try to trace vital footage

Jane Dalton
Wednesday 02 August 2023 22:55 BST
Zayna Iman alleges she was drugged and raped
Zayna Iman alleges she was drugged and raped (Zayna Iman/Sky News )

Detectives have asked computer experts to try to recover two hours of missing footage from a police cell where a woman claims she was drugged and raped.

An independent review is set to be carried out into the case of Zayna Iman, who believes she was drugged and sexually assaulted in a Greater Manchester Police cell.

Since her alleged ordeal in February 2021, Ms Iman has been fighting to find out exactly what happened during her 40-hour detention and who was responsible.

CCTV from inside her cell shows her, apparently unconscious, being carried into a cell by three female officers.

“I’m being restrained despite not being responsive, I’m handcuffed,” said Ms Iman, who has waived her right to anonymity.

The footage, obtained by Ms Iman through a subject access request, also shows her being strip-searched and left undressed for prolonged periods.

Police had taken the 38-year-old to a station on 5 February after a friend whom she FaceTimed became concerned for her welfare because she had taken cocaine.

Footage from the cell (Zayna Iman via GMP )

Ms Iman went to hospital after being released from police custody and was there for five days, documents show. After leaving hospital, she began asking Greater Manchester Police for evidence of what happened while in the cell.

When she received the footage after a year, two hours were missing. At 1pm on 6 February, the footage shows Ms Iman naked, looking up at the camera, before the screen goes blank. There is also section the day before where the footage cuts out. Both hours are missing from the footage.

A doctor’s entry on 9 February states: “Zayna has spent time with staff trying to make sense of the things that have happened and has now queried whether she was actually raped by the police."

The report concludes that Ms Iman, “who does not have any prior history of mental disorder”, was admitted with an acute psychotic episode that was resolved without treatment.

“It is highly likely that this is drug related to ‘the date rape drug’ which led to a sexual assault.”

Police on Wednesday denied withholding the footage deliberately and say they are asking digital forensics experts to try to get back two hour-long segments of missing CCTV footage from the custody cell.

In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said the footage from the cell was put onto four discs, one of which corrupted. When the files were recovered, it was found that two hours of footage were missing.

However, by this time, the "parent footage on the servers had been overwritten" because the standard time for retaining the footage had passed, the force said.

It added: “We have recovered and secured the servers and have an active line of enquiry – being if the outstanding hours can be recovered by Digital Forensics professionals.”

Watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) initially ordered an investigation led by Greater Manchester Police, but last month after the allegations were widely publicised, Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods made another referral to the IOPC “to assure Miss Iman and the public that all of her allegations will be rigorously and independently reviewed”.

Former victims commissioner Dame Vera Baird has been asked to look into the allegations by Ms Iman.

On Thursday Mr Woods said the IOPC was still assessing the second referral, and the police Professional Standards Branch had contacted Ms Iman.

“The force will positively engage with Dame Vera Baird’s independent review,” he said.

“We are obviously aware of and understand the concerns regarding the allegations that the force is withholding footage so I would like to provide reassurance.

“The following explanation details why, at this time, we have been unable to recover two one-hour segments of the CCTV footage from the custody cell. It is not the case that we are withholding this deliberately.

“The footage was burnt onto four discs in hour-long segments. One disc corrupted but files were recovered by the Digital Investigation Unit.

“Upon review, it was identified that two hours (From 10:00 to 10:59 hours on 05/02/21, and from 13:00 to 13:59 hours on 06/02/21) were missing but, by that date, the parent footage on the servers had been overwritten (due to the standard retention time having passed).

“However, we have recovered and secured the servers and have an active line of enquiry – being if the outstanding hours can be recovered by Digital Forensics professionals.”

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