Ipswich: I was raped but police treated me like a liar

IPSWICH: A number of serious failings by Suffolk police in their investigations of an allegation of rape can today be revealed – as the alleged victim says “sorry” is not good enough.

A report found vital forensic opportunities were missed, key witnesses were not interviewed correctly, searches of the suspect’s home and car were not carried out and the officer in charge of the case had no specific training in handling investigations of sexual offences.

But today Det Ch Supt Andy Henwood, of Suffolk police, told the Star a new structure is in place for rape investigations and reassured people “allegations of rape are always taken seriously”.

Anita Grinham, 37, from the Ipswich area, said she was made to feel like a liar after telling police she had been raped after her drink was spiked on a night out in Ipswich in July 2008.

Five weeks after the ordeal, the mum-of-four, terrified and scared for her life, found the courage to report what had happened to police.

Officers made an arrest but she was told the Crown Prosecution Service could not take the matter to court due to the lack of forensic evidence.

After making a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), Miss Grinham was informed in May 2010 that Suffolk Constabulary’s professional standards department would review the handling of the investigation.

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Last June her complaint was upheld.

Showing the report to the Star for the first time, Miss Grinham, who waived her right to anonymity, said the force’s failings made her feel like she was being branded a liar. It states: “Specifically, forensic opportunities were not considered, telephone evidence not sought, key witnesses not interviewed regarding the connected harassment incident, or re-interviewed in the case of the female acquaintances who had been with the complainant prior to the alleged rape.

“Equally, searches of the suspect’s home or the car used were not carried out, neither was he re-interviewed after conflicting accounts were obtained from the witnesses.”

While revealing the officer who interviewed Miss Grinham did have training to deal with rape inquiries, the report states the officer in charge of the investigation had “no specialist training regarding the investigation of sexual offences”.

Det Ch Supt Henwood said the recommendations made by the force’s professional standards department have helped to shape a new structure for rape investigations.

He said: “Suffolk Constabulary has created a countywide Gemini Team with specialist rape-trained officers who work with the victim from the outset to ensure they receive the best possible support, advice and guidance. They follow national protocol and best practice compiled from forces throughout the country.

“This matter has been referred to the IPCC and as such we cannot comment on this any further. However, we will work closely with the IPCC and the victim to implement any further recommendations that are put to us.

“We would like to take this opportunity to reassure residents that allegations of rape are always taken seriously and thoroughly investigated by Suffolk Police.”

The publication of the report comes as national watchdogs this week criticised police in England and Wales for failing to spot links between sex attacks and for not identifying rapists early enough.

The Inspectorate of Constabularies and the Crown Prosecution Service inspectorate criticised the number of allegations of rape closed as a “no crime” in some forces, in a joint report.

Miss Grinham said: “I know what happened to me, I was violated in the most horrendous way.

“Someone raped me and no one’s been punished. But I was made to feel like a liar.

“My whole life has changed, I went from being bubbly and outgoing to being paranoid and scared.

“I lost my business, I suffer from panic attacks, depression and was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

“Sorry is not good enough. My life stopped when I was raped. I have spent all my time since then trying to get justice. I just hope what I have been through helps change things for other victims.”

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