Saturday 21 April 2018

Police 'missed numerous chances to stop Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins sexually abusing children'

Former Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins is appealing against his sentence
Former Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins is appealing against his sentence

Ben Kentish

Police missed numerous opportunities to stop Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins sexually abusing children, the police watchdog has ruled.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said officers had failed to investigate allegations by Watkins’ former partner, Joanne Mjadzelics, that he had sent her an indecent image of a child.

It criticised the “inaction” of officers and said their behaviour could have placed a child at risk of further abuse.

South Yorkshire Police should take steps to ensure that only suitably trained officers deal with child sex abuse cases and should review its processes for dealing with alleged sexual abuses, the IPCC said.

Three officers involved in dealing with Ms Mjadzelics’ allegations could have faced charges of gross misconduct but have since retired, it added. They had each served for more than 30 years and no action can be taken against them.

Having taken into consideration the nature and seriousness of Ms Mjadzelics’ allegations against Watkins, the inaction of some South Yorkshire police officers involved may have placed a child at risk of further abuse for several months.

Watkins was arrested in September 2012, initially in connection with drugs offences and was later charged with possessing indecent images of children and publishing an obscene article.

He was jailed for 35 years in December 2013 after pleading guilty to multiple sexual offences against children, including the attempted rape of a baby.

Paedophile former Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins
Paedophile former Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins

Read More: Lostprophets Ian Watkins moved to 'paedophile haven'

“The evidence suggests there was a general view among officers at Doncaster that Ms Mjadzelics was not to be taken seriously, and consequently enquiries were not progressed as they should have been.

“It is concerning that a neighbourhood police constable without specific training or support, rather than an officer from a specialist team, was expected to view and make judgement on a potential image of child sexual abuse.

“South Yorkshire Police did not handle a request for assistance from South Wales Police thoroughly. I have recommended they create a policy document setting out what is expected of officers in collaborating on serious offence investigations.”

South Yorkshire Police had been asked by South Wales Police to interview Ms Mjadzelics about her allegations because she lived in Yorkshire at the time.

Read More: Paedophile Ian Watkins' former lover tells court indecent images of children were part of rouse to catch musician

However, the case was assigned to the force’s Safer Neighbourhood Team rather than the unit that deals with specialist public protection, meaning the interview was conducted by an officer with no training in investigating child sex abuse.

The officer did not view the image that Ms Mjadzelics alleged Watkins has sent her, despite her having brought her laptop with her in order to show police.

Officers also failed to view the image three days later, when Ms Mjadzelics again went to report the matter to police.When the picture was finally looked at, untrained officers decided it was of an adult female.

One serving officer is facing a misconduct hearing over comments she allegedly made to Ms Mjadzelics regarding her reasons for reporting the offences.

Watkins’ former partner has previously claimed police ignored her allegations because she was a prostitute who they thought was a “nut job”.

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