“Vulnerable” woman raped by man due to failings by two Derbyshire police officers

Lincolnshire Police
Lincolnshire Police

A “vulnerable” woman was raped by a man due to failings by two Derbyshire police officers, a new report has found.

The victim repeatedly reported threatening behaviour and a breach of bail conditions by Craig Hutsby, of Eastwood in July 2014. He then went on to rape her the next month in a park in Heanor before being jailed in February 2015 at Derby Crown Court for nine years and five months. He was also served with a protection from harassment order and will be on the Sexual Offender Register for life.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has found cases to answer for misconduct for PC Sofi Essex and PC Joseph Lovelock.

The two officers attended misconduct meetings in December 2015; PC Essex received a written warning and PC Lovelock was given management advice. Both officers were put on performance improvement action plans.

The investigation also highlighted unsatisfactory performance by two Derbyshire Constabulary call handlers, who did not properly communicate Hutsby’s current bail conditions to officers investigating the victim’s initial reports.

Detective Superintendent Rachel Walker of Derbyshire Police said the force “agreed” with the IPCC and said they take the findings “very seriously.”

IPCC Commissioner, Derrick Campbell, said: “This investigation has highlighted failings by Derbyshire Constabulary to protect a vulnerable woman who went on tragically to become a victim of rape. It appears the action or inaction of some individuals had a significant impact on how the reports of threatening behaviour, in this case, were dealt with by officers.

“It is evidence, if needed, of the importance of completing relevant documentation to ensure every available safeguard is put into place for people who have been, or are, at risk.”

The IPCC investigation found PC Essex has a case to answer for misconduct for not creating an ‘arrest package’ – a required document, completed before arrest attempts can begin – when asked, on two separate occasions, by two police sergeants. Although eventually completed, the delay resulted in no action being taken to locate and arrest Craig Hutsby prior to the rape being committed.

PC Joseph Lovelock has a case to answer for misconduct for failing to properly complete a Domestic Abuse Stalking and Harassment (DASH) form for the victim. This meant she was not identified as being at ‘high risk of harm’ and appropriate measures to manage that risk could not be made.

The IPCC has also made a number of recommendations to the force, these are:

• Review how DASH forms are completed, ensure they are completed thoroughly, reassess how they are reviewed, and address any backlog.

• Ensure officers fully understand all forms of domestic abuse, including what options are available to them, to safeguard a victim.

A quick-time learning recommendation to improve training for control centre staff, to fully understand bail conditions, was addressed by the force in February 2015.

Detective Superintendent Rachel Walker, head of Derbyshire Constabulary’s Professional Standards Department, said: “We agree with the IPCC that the level of service given by the officers and call handlers was not of the standard we expect. We have already taken action to improve the service we provide.”

“We take the findings very seriously and acted quickly when the recommendations and conclusion of the IPCC investigation was brought to our attention. The force was commended by the IPCC for responding to their early recommendation in a positive and thorough way.”