Police ‘sorry’ after teen rape victim is arrested

Picture: Julie Bull
Picture: Julie Bull
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A POLICE force has apologised to a rape victim and agreed to pay her a £20,000 out-of-court settlement after she was initially arrested by officers.

Reports said that the force reached an agreement the woman, named only as Laura, after she began proceedings against the force under the Human Rights Act.

Our assessment and handling of the case was very poor

Det Supt David Powell

Her mother said she was “horrified” by the way her then teenage daughter had been treated.

Two months after making her rape complaint in 2012, the woman was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, following the failure of forensic tests on her clothes to return a result.

But the Crown Prosecution Service ordered retests and her attacker was eventually jailed for five years in 2013.

The woman’s mother – given the pseudonym Jacqui – ­explained that Laura had attempted suicide twice after her arrest and that her mental health had deteriorated.

She said: “I was horrified. You expect them to do everything they can to put the rapist away.”

The woman’s mother continued: “She started self-harming again. She attempted twice to take her life because she couldn’t cope.”

It was not until six months after being arrested that Laura finally learned that she was in the clear. Chief Superintendent David Powell of Hampshire Police admitted the initial handling of the case had been “poor”.

Addressing other sexual assault victims, he added: “We do believe you, we appreciate how hard it is to come forward to report these offences. We are doing everything to ensure we never have an initial response like this again.”

The force also confirmed that one officer had received a written warning for misconduct, while ten had received “management action”.

Jacqui believed the attitude of detectives had been affected by the fact her daughter had previously been in trouble with the police before the rape.

She said of the police officers: “I think it’s disgusting. I think if you’re in the middle of an investigation and you’ve been named, they shouldn’t let you resign or retire.

“They’re all right, aren’t they? They haven’t had to go through solicitors’ meetings and meetings with the police and, you know.

“They’re sat on their cushty pension in their nice big house.”

In a statement released by Hampshire Police, Det Supt Powell said: “Our initial assessment and handling of this case in 2012 was very poor and we are not proud of our initial response.

“We have already personally apologised to the victim and her mother; and I repeat here, now, that we are sorry for how we let her down.

“Once I became aware of what had happened, I immediately ordered a new investigation, working very closely with the victim.

“By quickly taking these steps, we were able to provide the right investigative response with supportive and compassionate officers to obtain the evidence required, which secured the prosecution and conviction of this offender.

“We are grateful that this victim gave us a second chance to put this investigation right.”