Saturday, December 05, 2015

Bungling Britain again

The case against a man has been dropped after police lost vital video tapes showing him admitting assaulting a nine-year-old girl.

The man initially admitted the attack during a police interview and recordings of the conversation were due to be presented in court after he pleaded not guilty.

But the case was dropped after police admitted they had lost the video of the interview.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told the family it had 'no alternative' to drop the case because there was not 'a realistic prospect of conviction' without the tapes.

Nottinghamshire Police have now launched an investigation and promised to take 'robust' action.

The family of the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, yesterday spoke of their disgust at the mistake.

A spokesman for the family said: 'She is the child, she is the vulnerable one, the police should be looking after her.

'It is so unjust for the evidence to disappear.

'The police need to be accountable, even more so because this offence is against a young child.'

In the letter from the CPS, the family were told that the man, from Clifton, Nottingham, admitted in a police interview that he had assaulted the girl.

It added that the CPS had requested the video from Nottinghamshire Police, which would form part of the evidence for a trial due to take place this month.

The letter stated: 'Unfortunately, we have been told by the police that the master tape and the working copy of the tape are missing and that they are not able to locate them. 'Without this evidence, we are not able to prosecute the case.'

A CPS spokesman said: 'We can confirm we required tapes from the defendant's police interview to prove the case but were told by the officer in the case that they were not available. 'Without this material, there was insufficient evidence to proceed, so the case was stopped.'

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police said the decision to stop the case would form part of an investigation by the force's professional standards directorate.

He added: 'Our officers and staff are held to the highest standards of professionalism and if the investigation shows that we have fallen short of these standards, robust, appropriate action will be taken.

'We have apologised to the family for the distress this incident has caused and we would like to reassure the public that every precaution will be taken to ensure there is no repeat in the future.'

The force converted to a digital system just two months ago, which officers said would 'remove the reliance on physical media such as tapes and DVDs'. The move will also ensure all interviews are 'recorded in digital format and securely, centrally stored'.

Original report here

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