Essex

Essex child abuse: Family of rape victim, five, want case reviewed

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Media captionParents: "For a little girl to have been failed... is just shocking"

The parents of a five-year-old rape victim have called for a new police investigation into her case.

Essex Police previously apologised for the handling of its inquiry into the rape by a boy aged 12 in 2011.

The boy was given the equivalent of a caution and the case was not referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. Essex Police admitted that outcome was wrong.

The girl's mother said it was "shocking" her daughter had been "failed so significantly".

The force found numerous failures during its subsequent internal investigation, overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), into the actions of detectives.

As a result, a wider probe was launched and an outside force invited in for a mass-examination - known as Operation Maple - of Essex Police investigations into child abuse.

Misconduct proceedings

The girl's parents say they now want their own case looked at by an outside force.

They are angry that despite multiple failures - including one detective telling the 12-year-old boy to "do it to someone older next time" - the officers concerned were given only a written warning and were returned to work on the child abuse investigation team.

The rape was reported to police in August 2011, and police gave the offender a "final warning" - the juvenile equivalent of a caution - in November of that year.

Image caption PCC Nick Alston says the family has few options as the IPCC has concluded an investigation already

Essex Police said in a statement that the IPCC had investigated the case following a complaint from the girl's family and as a result three officers had been subject to misconduct proceedings.

The force said a "full and robust process" that had already taken place meant the case had not been among those referred to the IPCC as part of Operation Maple.

But the girl's parents believe the investigation was insufficient and that its conclusions were watered down to protect officers.

They also say they don't understand why their case is not among the near 40 investigations being re-examined.

"Give us a plausible explanation why you won't, even for the sake of transparency, review our case," said the girl's mother "Sara" - not her real name.

"You're reviewing a significant amount.

"One more, surely, for transparency purposes alone, should be a drop in the ocean."

'Huge sympathy'

The parents also say they have lost their trust in the police.

"We brought our children up to think they could trust the police. As we did. As you would expect to," said Sara.

"And clearly that just isn't the case.

"And for a little girl to have been failed so significantly is just shocking, and she doesn't understand why these adults and police officers have all failed her at a time when it's crucial that we trust them."

Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston said the family had few options because the IPCC had concluded an investigation already, albeit one which was carried out by an Essex Police officer and merely supervised by the police watchdog.

He said he believed the system for investigating complaints against police was broken and often "seems to operate against the victims".

Mr Alston, who is brokering a meeting between the family and Essex Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh, said the force had learned from the case - but that the family's comments were "devastating".

"I have huge sympathy with the family, and I hope that their meeting with the chief constable will help start to rebuild that trust, but they have been through a bad experience," he said.

"I'm afraid to say it's an experience shared by many other people who are victims of crime, who don't get the satisfaction they need."

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