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26 March 2015, 12:02
A review has found two officers with Bedfordshire Police have misconduct cases to answer for over the child abuse investigation about Ian Watkins.
An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has found that Bedfordshire Police did take immediate steps to investigate an allegation of child abuse involving Ian Watkins in 2012, and to safeguard an infant.
However, the IPCC has recommended that two detectives have a case to answer for misconduct for not complying with force policy on recording decision-making, and not pursuing all reasonable lines of enquiry.
It was concluded that neither officer has a case to answer in respect of Ms Joanne Mjadzelics’ complaint that they failed to protect an 18 month old infant, Child A. The investigation found that Bedfordshire Police acted promptly to investigate Ms Mjadzelics’ allegation of 9 October 2012 that the child’s mother, Miss A, was allowing Watkins to sexually abuse her child.
IPCC Commissioner Jan Williams said:
“Bedfordshire Police officers did respond in a timely way to the allegation made by Joanne Mjadzelics in 2012, and demonstrably had the welfare of Miss A’s child uppermost in their minds. Nothing was found by our investigation to say the force could definitely have prevented any offending, or contributed to bringing Ian Watkins to justice sooner.
“However, there were some more investigative steps detectives could have taken, including the earlier seizure and analysis of electronic equipment belonging to Miss A.
“The two officers subject to the IPCC investigation stated that they did not believe there were grounds to seize Miss A’s devices, and it is regrettable that they failed to document their decision making in this regard.”
The IPCC established that the officer in the case took a number of steps including the following:
• examined messages about Ian Watkins exchanged between Ms Mjadzelics and Miss A;
• instigated checks to identify Miss A and her child, and convened a strategy meeting; and
• conducted a joint home visit at Miss A’s address with Social Services where she witnessed Miss A’s interaction with her child.
But the IPCC found the detective constable and the supervising sergeant did not progress the investigation adequately. In particular, they failed:
• to document any consideration they may have given after visiting her to seizing Miss A’s electronic equipment;
• to examine discrepancies between Miss A’s account and social media messages she exchanged with Ms Mjadzelics with sufficient rigour;
• to review the investigation on or after 12 October 2012 in light of the arrest of another woman, Miss B, for sexual offences. Ms Mjadzelics had told Bedfordshire Police that Miss B was abusing her child before Miss B was arrested. The fact Ms Mjadzelics’ allegations had been found to have substance in relation to Miss B should have caused officers to review the information she gave in respect of Miss A, particularly in view of the fact that social media messages made clear that Miss A had knowledge of Miss B.
• to give sufficient prominence to the role of internet activity in Ms Mjadzelics’ complaint.
Miss A was eventually arrested on 21 November 2012 as a result of enquiries into Ian Watkins’ online activity conducted by South Wales Police.
The IPCC has agreed with Bedfordshire Police’s decision that the two detectives should receive management action. The force has advised the IPCC it is providing briefings to officers within the force’s Public Protection Unit as a result of learning from the investigation.
The Bedfordshire Police officers subject to the investigation provided written accounts. The IPCC is disappointed that both officers refused to answer questions when interviewed by our investigators.
The IPCC investigation into Bedfordshire Police began in January 2014.The force’s Professional Standards Department initially considered a complaint from Joanne Mjadzelics, determined that no action was necessary and notified the complainant of this decision in September 2013. Bedfordshire Police then received a further complaint from Ms Mjadzelics that she was not satisfied with the force’s actions in October 2012, and the IPCC then began an independent investigation.
The IPCC has ongoing investigations into South Wales and South Yorkshire Police in connection with their handling of allegations that the lead singer of the Lostprophets was abusing children.