Rape victim gets £20,000 from Hampshire police

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A rape victim will receive a £20,000 out-of-court settlement after a police force apologised for failing to investigate her complaint properly and arresting her.

The woman, who was 17 at the time of the rape in 2012, tried to kill herself after she was told she could face charges for lying about the attack.

Her rapist was convicted and jailed for five years in 2013.

Hampshire Constabulary said it was “sorry for how we let her down”.

The woman’s lawyer Debaleena Dasgupta told the BBC she had been able to seek justice only because of the Human Rights Act, and said her client was concerned about plans to repeal it.

‘Horrified’

Laura, which is not her real name, was at a house with friends after a night out when she was raped by a man who was part of the group.

Laura reported the rape to police in Winchester, but her mother – “Jackie” – told the BBC the officers who responded “weren’t very sympathetic”.

Laura told officers she believed there was forensic evidence on her T-shirt, which implicated her attacker.

The police did not carry out a full test and failed to find any evidence, Jackie said.

Police later arrested Laura on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

“I was horrified,” said Jackie.

“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.”

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Jackie believes the officers’ attitude to her daughter was influenced by the fact she had been in trouble with the police in the past.

Her daughter also had mental health problems.

Following the arrest, Jackie said Laura started self-harming again, before trying to commit suicide twice “because she couldn’t cope”.

“She just couldn’t believe she wasn’t believed,” Jackie said.

Written warning

Four months after her arrest, detectives visited Laura to tell her they believed her story.

The Crown Prosecution Service had asked for the T-shirt to be thoroughly tested and the rapist was charged.

Laura began proceedings against Hampshire Constabulary using the Human Rights Act.

The force decided to settle out of court and investigated a number of officers involved in the case. 

One was given a written warning and three others were allowed to resign or retire during the internal investigation.

Jackie said: “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.”

She added: “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?”

An extract from an article written for the BBC: May 2015 

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