A YORKSHIRE police force has been criticised by a watchdog for a string of failures in its handling of a woman’s claims of being raped by her violent Asian ex boyfriend for “not behaving Muslim enough”.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has found South Yorkshire Police’s response to the woman’s multiple reports of being attacked, beaten, threatened, stalked and degraded “did not reach the standard a reasonable person would expect”.
The senior commissioner leading the investigation said today the woman had been “let down badly”.
The victim is now considering legal action against the force.
Speaking for the first time after the report was published, the unnamed woman urged the police to “spend less time making excuses, and more time actually doing their job” to protect vulnerable women. She said she was speaking out for the sake of countless other victims.
After the damning report, South Yorkshire Police- which last summer found itself at the centre of the Rotherham grooming scandal - has apologised to the complainant.
The historic alleged attack happened during a period when - it later emerged - hundreds of other serious incidents of sexual attacks and grooming were taking place in Rotherham under the noses of the authorities.
In November 2014, the woman told the IPCC that the force had not properly investigated after she reported being repeatedly harassed, assaulted and raped by an ex-boyfriend, during the mid-1990s.
She also told the watchdog that police had dissuaded her from making a criminal complaint against her abuser following an incident where she suffered a fractured skull.
After the watchdog today ruled in her favour, the woman said in a statement: “I made this complaint about South Yorkshire Police not only for myself, but also for other girls in South Yorkshire who were in similar situations as me. You can only watch injustice go on for so long until you feel compelled to say something.
“My Pakistani ex-boyfriend told me he beat me and raped me because I was white, and I didn’t behave like a Muslim woman.
“I reported his abuse, stalking and threats to the police five times, but they said that if I didn’t have bruises, there was nothing they could do.
“Even when an honour attack led to my fractured skull, the police didn’t investigate, and they dissuaded me from making a statement.
“I expected him to go to prison for his crimes, but he was always allowed to get away with it.
“I still don’t know why South Yorkshire Police let so many girls down so badly, but they did, and we have suffered a lot. Living in fear, with scars and constant reminders of what they did to us.
“I am very grateful to the IPCC for thoroughly investigating my complaint about the way my case was handled.
“In the future I hope that the police take violent sexual crimes, stalking, and honour attacks more seriously. If the police spent less time making excuses, and more time actually doing their job, the world would be a safer place.”
The independent investigation looked at the woman’s contact with South Yorkshire Police between 1995 and 1996. It found a lack of police investigative material relating to her reports.
The inquiry concluded that:
• No crime record or record of any investigation following the report of rape and assault has been found, and;
• Independent witnesses corroborated her claims that police had visited her on a number of occasions, following her complaints, but there was no police record of these visits.
However it was also noted that although there was evidence to suggest there was a lack of investigative work, the absence of records meant individual officers involved in dealing with the woman could not be formally identified. Therefore there could be no case to answer for misconduct for any officer or staff member.
The IPCC said today that on receiving its report, South Yorkshire Police upheld the woman’s complaint regarding neglect of duty and apologised to her.
Associate IPCC Commissioner, Tom Milsom, said: “This woman reported very serious offences to South Yorkshire Police. Her complaints should have been recorded as reported crimes by the force – there is no evidence they were.
“They should have been investigated thoroughly – again there is no evidence they were.
“The lack of records means we have no individual officers to investigate, but it is evident the service provided by South Yorkshire Police did not meet the standard a reasonable person would expect.
“She was let down badly and I welcome the apology from South Yorkshire Police.”
A report by Professor Alexis Jay last summer laid bare the full scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, where at least 1,400 children were abused between 1997 and 2013.
Home Secretary Theresa May later claimed the failure of South Yorkshire Police to tackle child sex abuse in Rotherham was an example of the “perverse outcomes” caused by the improper use of targets.
Announcing a “major independent review of the use of crime and performance targets”, Mrs May said the force may have ignored the abuse of hundreds of young girls because it was too focused on car theft and burglary.
• The full report is available via the IPCC website: www.ipcc.gov.uk.