Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Hampshire police 'gravely let down' sex attack victim

A victim of a serious sexual assault was "gravely let down" by police in Hampshire, an independent investigation has concluded.

The woman made an emergency call to the police on 17 February requesting assistance but her call was abandoned before it was transferred.

Despite initial reports of a struggle being heard and a man arguing in the background, officers were not deployed.

In a statement, the force apologised to the woman and her family.

'Individual flaws'

The report found a control room supervisor called the woman back 15 minutes after the call was abandoned and asked a series of closed questions including, "You don't need the police?"

During the call a man could be heard whispering in the background.

Later that day Hampshire Constabulary received a report that the woman had been the victim of a serious sexual assault.

Mike Franklin, from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), said it was not possible to say whether police attendance would have prevented the attack.

"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," he said.

He added the failure to protect the woman was due to "individual rather than systemic or organisational flaws".

The investigation found that a force control room supervisor had a case to answer for gross misconduct.

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said internal misconduct proceedings were ongoing.

'Deeply sorry'

Other key findings of the investigation showed intelligence checks on the woman were not conducted despite entries on the call log to the contrary.

It also found no additional research had been carried out despite multiple reports of previous domestic abuse attached to the woman and the address.

Assistant Chief Constable David Pryde said Hampshire Constabulary accepted the findings of the report.

"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," he said.

He added the force was working to improve information sharing and procedures for responding to incidents where a history of domestic violence exists.

Mr Pryde said he hoped this would reassure communities that the constabulary remained "committed to protecting people".

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