Hampshire Police Pay Rape Victim £20k For Not Believing Her
The Debrief: The victim was arrested when police couldn't find any evidence of the attack, but the rapist was later found
In 2012, a 17-year-old girl reported being sexually assaulted, and was told (after heavy-handed questioning) that she may face charges for lying about the attack. She then tried to kill herself. Now, the police have 360'd and given her £20,000 in compensation for the hell they put her through – just another example of why we need to seriously review the way rape is dealt with in this country.
When the victim, who press have given the pseudonym 'Laura', went to the station with forensic evidence on her T shirt, the police failed to do a proper test. They also, according to her mother, 'weren't very sympathetic' and, once they hadn't found proper evidence, arrested Laura for lying about the attack.
'A woman comes forward and tells the police authority she has been raped: You expect them to do everything they can to put the rapist away,' her mother told the BBC.
She believes that the officers' attitude towards her daughter was informed by her past trouble with the police due to mental health problems. After the arrest, she began self harming again before trying to kill herself 'because she couldn't cope.'
Four months after this, the police visited her home again to tell her the Crown Prosecution Service had ordered for the T shirt to be properly tested, and they'd found the rapist. So basically, that they were wrong for arresting her. One officer subject to investigation for their handling of the case was given written warning, but three others were allowed to resign or retire during the investigation.
'I think it is disgusting. If you're in the middle of an investigation and you've been named, they shouldn't let you resign or retire because you are answerable to that,' said the victim's mother. 'I'm glad that they have admitted that they were wrong. But... if it can happen to my daughter, how many more can it happen to?'
In response, Chief Superintendent David Powell of the Hampshire police said: 'We have already personally apologised to the victim and her mother and I repeat here now that we are sorry for how we let her down.'
He added: 'The initial officers involved did not treat this victim in a way that she or any other victim would deserve to be treated. We deeply regret this.'
Importantly, he went on to reassure all victims of sexual assault that this wouldn't happen to them.
'We do believe you, we appreciate how hard it is to come forward to report these offences... we are doing everything to ensure we never have an initial response like this again.'
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