Vic­tim of abuse files com­plaints against top of­fi­cers

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS - By ROBIN JENK­INS

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

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