Watchdog fails to talk to DPO over Pilkington police failings


The independent watchdog investigating Leicestershire police over alleged failings that led to a disabled teenager’s death has yet to talk to a disabled people’s organisation that raised serious concerns about the force’s treatment of disability hate crime.

Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living (LCIL) said last autumn that it had been trying to persuade Leicestershire police to take disability hate crime seriously for at least five years before Fiona Pilkington was driven to kill herself and her disabled daughter, Francecca.

LCIL also passed on further concerns as part of a consultation on the force’s first disability equality scheme.

An inquest last year heard that the Pilkingtons were subjected to years of sustained harassment and abuse from a gang in Barwell, Leicestershire, much of it targeted at Francecca, who had learning difficulties.

Despite 33 calls to the police, the family’s complaints were not taken seriously and the harassment was never treated as a potential disability hate crime.

An inquest jury concluded that the failures of the police, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and Leicestershire County Council contributed to Pilkington’s decision to kill herself and Francecca in 2007.

Following the inquest, the Independent Police Complaints Commission launched an investigation into the deaths and promised to investigate Leicestershire police’s alleged breach of policies and guidelines on dealing with disability hate crime.

Six months on, and despite being the leading disabled people’s organisation (DPO) in Leicestershire, no-one at LCIL has been contacted by IPCC investigators.

Dee Martin, chief executive of LCIL, said she was “disappointed” at the IPCC’s failure, and added: “I haven’t heard anything at all. As a local DPO, I would have thought they would have been contacting us.”

When questioned over its failure to talk to LCIL, an IPCC spokesman asked for its contact information and details of the concerns it raised, so he could pass them to the investigation team.

When asked why no-one had yet spoken to LCIL, he said the IPCC was “in the middle of a long, complex inquiry that is ongoing”, but declined to comment further.

The IPCC announced this week that 10 police officers were under investigation over their conduct in the case and had been served “advisory notices”.

The IPCC spokesman said: “Such notices are not judgemental in any way, but are required under police misconduct regulations, and served on officers to advise that their conduct is under investigation.”

17 March 2010


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