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Police failure storing sexual assault victims’ samples

Police failure storing sexual assault victims’ samples

I am currently representing a client in a claim against Bedfordshire Police. For the purposes of this ongoing sensitive case, I will name my client as Mrs A.

After being drugged and being the victim of a sexual assault by a man she met on a dating site, Mrs A managed to gather the courage to report the same to Bedfordshire Police. Mrs A then trusted the said Police Force to competently and properly conduct their investigation into the allegations that she had raised.

During the said investigation, Mrs A was asked to provide samples to Bedfordshire Police to assist in the said investigation and specifically, the gathering of evidence to prove her allegation. Following the same, the perpetrator of the said crime was then arrested.

Once interviewed, Bedfordshire Police submitted the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a charging decision. To Mrs A’s disbelief, the CPS decided that there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction of the said rape. Understandably, Mrs A was devastated to receive this news but at the same time she was astonished by the said CPS decision.

As a result of this, Mrs A requested a review of the CPS’ decision under the Victim’s Right to Review Scheme. Subsequently and to Mrs A’s horror, the CPS stated that the reason why there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction for the said rape was because the samples which she had provided had been ‘misplaced’ by Bedfordshire Police. Due to this, there was no evidence to substantiate that Mrs A had been drugged and the case would therefore be one of whether consent had been provided by Mrs A. As a result of the drugging, Mrs A’s recollection of events was hazy and so the CPS believed that a conviction was not likely to be obtained against the perpetrator; resulting in the refused charge.

To make matters worse, Bedfordshire Police did not even have the decency to inform Mrs A why the CPS refused to charge against the perpetrator as clearly, they did not wish to make her aware of their error. Mrs A trusted Bedfordshire Police to help her achieve justice but instead, their failure was why the CPS decided not to prosecute the perpetrator.

Following notification of this error by Bedfordshire Police, Mrs A instructed Mr Matthew McConville (an Actions Against the Police specialist Solicitor at Irvings Law)  to lodge a complaint to Bedfordshire Police in respect of their above mentioned failing.

Subsequently, a full investigation was conducted and it further came to light that Bedfordshire Police had not been properly documented forensic samples which they collected from victims of sexual assaults. It therefore became apparent that the way in which Mrs A was failed by Bedfordshire Police was not a unique situation.

Unfortunately, the said investigation admitted that freezers where samples were being stored were full to capacity and not stored in any type of order nor was there any record of where each sample was located. As such, Bedfordshire Police have now reviewed the contents of the said freezers and logged the said samples in a systematic order. In addition, Bedfordshire Police have subsequently also introduced a new policy to prevent similar issues happening again. Further, Bedfordshire Police have since located Mrs A’s samples and the same are currently undergoing forensic analysis with a view to re-opening the criminal investigation against her perpetrator.

However, what is clear is that if Mrs A had not have challenged the CPS decision nor lodged a complaint to Bedfordshire Police, she would not have firstly ever have known the reason why the CPS refused to charge her perpetrator and secondly neither would have Bedfordshire Police have found her samples and re-opened the criminal investigation where she was the victim of a sexual assault.

For this reason, Mr Matthew McConville at Irvings Law is concerned that there are more people than Mrs A whom have been failed by Bedfordshire Police in this way but have not been notified of the same.

If you think or feel that you may have been affected by Bedfordshire Police like Mrs A, please call 0151 475 1999 where you can speak to our specialist team free of charge with a view to bringing a case against Bedfordshire Police on a no win, no fee basis. Alternatively, you can email Mr Matthew McConville who is the head of the said specialist team at Irvings Law; his direct email address is Matthew.McConville@irvingslaw.com.

Posted in Actions Against the Police

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