Saturday, September 17, 2011

Woman and daughter die but negligent British police get off Scot-free

Police investigating police again

No police officer will face disciplinary action over the death of Fiona Pilkington who killed herself and her disabled daughter after a decade of unchecked abuse by yobs. Yesterday four officers accused of failing to stop the misery inflicted upon the family – who made dozens of 999 calls – were cleared of misconduct.

The inspector, a sergeant and two constables were said in a report by the police watchdog to have ‘cases to answer’. But Leicestershire Police said internal hearings this week had concluded that the case against the unnamed four was ‘not proven’. It means no individual officer has faced any disciplinary sanction over the case.

A spokesman for the force blamed ‘systems and processes’ for the failure to respond to the family’s desperate pleas for help.

At the time Miss Pilkington was accused of ‘over-reacting’ to the torment inflicted upon her by a gang of youths at their home in Barwell, Leicestershire. In October 2007 she killed herself and her 18-year-old daughter Francecca, who had a mental age of four, by setting fire to their car in a layby.

The yobs, some as young as ten, threw stones and eggs at their home, urinated on their wall, invaded the garden and pushed fireworks through the letter box, leaving the family ‘under siege’. An Independent Police Complaints Commission report found that Miss Pilkington, 38, contacted the force on 33 occasions.

Yesterday the family’s solicitor, Jocelyn Cockburn, said the family felt ‘let down’ by the force and added: ‘Numerous police failings were identified at the inquest and in the IPCC report. ‘It is therefore hard for the Pilkington family to understand why no officer has been found guilty of misconduct.

‘Police very rarely discipline officers for misconduct and criminal charges are virtually never brought. I invite the investigating officer to release to the family his rationale in reaching this decision.’

The force’s deputy chief constable, David Evans, said the misconduct hearings concluded that the mistakes made in the case were ‘of an organisational nature due to the systems and processes in place at the time not enabling officers to provide the most effective service’. He added: ‘The tragic deaths of Fiona and her daughter acted as a turning point for the force in how it prioritised and dealt with anti-social behaviour, linking incidents and identifying vulnerability.’

The inquest into the deaths heavily criticised both the force and the local council. It heard that none of the 16-strong gang was ever prosecuted. At one point one yob told Miss Pilkington: ‘We can do anything we like to you and you can’t do anything about it.’

Mark Goldring, of the charity Mencap, said it was ‘extremely shocking and disappointing’ that no one has been held accountable for the failure to protect Miss Pilkington and Francecca. He said the deaths represented ‘a complete failure in the police’s ability to respond adequately to disability hate crime victims’.

And he called on the IPCC to reopen the case to assess whether sufficient changes to policies and practices have been made to prevent similar failures.

Original report here

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