Victim of abuse files complaints against top officers
AWOMAN sexually abused by her brother when she was a child has lodged formal complaints against Gloucestershire police’s two most senior officers.
Heidi Clutterbuck says she is “increasingly worried about the standards and conduct of senior police officers” and has complained about chief constable Rod Hansen and deputy chief constable Jon Stratford.
The complaints, which the force has confirmed it has received, relate to Mrs Clutterbuck’s disappointment at the way she says her case continues to be handled by Gloucestershire police.
She is unhappy with the force’s response to the findings of an independent watchdog and what she said was officers’ failure to comprehensively look at all the evidence found.
She said she was abused between the age of six and 10 by her late brother, James Guthrie of Tewkesbury.
She initially reported the matter to West Mercia Police in 2013, after Guthrie had died, and it was later investigated by Gloucestershire police.
The latter constabulary was heavily criticised by The Independent Police Complaints Commission in 2017 for failing Mrs Clutterbuck in the way it handled the case.
Mrs Clutterbuck was devastated that an officer found to have a case to answer for gross misconduct by the IPPC was re-employed by the force, after being allowed to retire.
Now 47 and living near Tewkesbury, Mrs Clutterbuck said: “It is with a deep sense of personal sadness, frustration and disappointment I felt forced to make a complaint about both senior officers.
“Working around the country sharing the positives and learning opportunities of Larkspur (the IPCC investigation), I have become increasingly worried about the standards and conduct of senior officers in Gloucestershire police.
“It has come to the point where I had to act and make these complaints to allow outside agencies to look at all these issues with an independent view. “It is not a decision I took lightly but having engaged with Gloucestershire police for a further almost two years since Larkspur ended, it became clear matters were too entwined in the re-employment of the officer and their own failings highlighted with Larkspur.” Mrs Clutterbuck has waived her right as a sexual abuse victim to remain anonymous.
In October 2017 Gloucestershire police fully accepted the IPCC findings and admitted it did not provide the support Mrs Clutterbuck required or take the appropriate measures.
She said there had been poor standards of knowledge and decision making.
She added that there had been a failure to record and follow procedure by a second officer in the police’s senior command team.
He was found to have a case to answer for misconduct, accepted management advice but retained his position.
A Gloucestershire police statement said the complaint against Mr Stratford has been referred to an independent force to review.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner handles complaints against the chief constable.
The constabulary said: “During the IPCC’S investigation into the constabulary’s handling of Mrs Clutterbuck’s original complaint, they found no evidence of corruption or collusion by our officers or staff, as had been alleged.
“However the constabulary accepted the watchdog’s findings that one of our Professional Standards Department officers had a case to answer for failing to record and investigate a sexual assault allegation and failure to adhere to relevant policies and procedures.
“The officer was the subject of management action.
“We did not agree with the findings against one of our other former officers, which stated they had a case to answer for gross misconduct.
“This was a decision that was taken following thorough analysis of all the information available and legal advice about the evidence.”
It continued: “The decision was taken that if the former officer had still been serving, there was insufficient evidence to prove gross misconduct and therefore no basis to place him on the disapproved register.
“Subsequently we have worked with the police watchdog to improve national training for officers and staff in professional standards departments dealing with sensitive allegations like Mrs Clutterbuck’s.
“All current officers in the department are fully trained in handling allegations of child abuse, with strong experience and expertise in this area.
“They found that if James Guthrie had been alive, there was enough evidence to put a charging decision to the CPS.
“However as a matter of policy, the CPS does not make charging decisions about the deceased.” robin.jenk[email protected]plc.com
Heidi Clutterbuck and, inset, chief constable Rod Hansen