An independent investigation into how Hampshire Constabulary handled an emergency call from a vulnerable woman has concluded the force let her down.
In the early hours of 17 February 2012 a 999 call was made requesting police assistance. Before the call was transferred through to Hampshire Constabulary’s control room it was abandoned but the initial report, provided by the telephone operator, stated a struggle could be heard and a man arguing in the background.
When a control room supervisor called the woman back, approximately 15-minutes after the abandoned call, he asked her a series of closed questions including ‘you don’t need the police’. A man could again be heard whispering in the background.
Police officers were not deployed to the incident.
Later the same day Hampshire Constabulary received a report the woman had been the victim of a serious sexual assault.
The key findings of the investigation include:
• The incident was treated as an abandoned call by the force control room supervisor therefore subsequent risk assessments and how the incident was progressed were based on this;
• Intelligence checks on the woman’s name, address and telephone number were not conducted despite entries on the call log to the contrary;
• The woman was asked closed questions by the control room supervisor;
• If additional research had taken place it would have identified multiple reports of previous domestic abuse attached to the woman and the address;
• The incident was not escalated to an Inspector;
• The standard by which the police handled the call was unacceptable as the prevailing circumstances were not considered and the abandoned call dealt with in isolation.
IPCC Commissioner Mike Franklin said:
“It is not possible to say with any certainty whether police attendance would have prevented this very serious sexual assault. 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.
“The failure to protect this woman was due to individual rather than systemic or organisational flaws.”
The IPCC investigation found that the force control room supervisor has a case to answer for gross misconduct.
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