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Police face misconduct inquiry over Watkins case.

Byline: Cathy Owen Reporter cathy.owen@walesonline.co.uk

TWO detectives have a case to answer for misconduct in the case of Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins, a watchdog has said. An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has found Bedfordshire Police did take immediate steps to investigate an allegation of child abuse involving the singer in 2012 and to safeguard an infant.

But the inquiry recommended two detectives have a case to answer for misconduct for not complying with force policy on recording decision-making and not pursuing all reasonable lines of inquiry. It was concluded that neither officer has a case to answer in respect of a complaint by Joanne Mjadzelics, Watkins' former lover, that they failed to protect an 18-month-old infant named only as Child A. The investigation found Bedfordshire Police acted promptly to investigate Ms Mjadzelics' allegation of October 9, 2012, that the child's mother, Miss A, was allowing Watkins to sexually abuse her child.

IPCC commissioner Jan Williams said: "Bedfordshire Police officers did respond in a timely way to the allegation made by Joanne Mjadzelics in 2012 and demonstrably had the welfare of Miss A's child uppermost in their minds.

"Nothing was found by our investigation to say the force could definitely have prevented any offending or contributed to bringing Ian Watkins to justice sooner.

"However there were some more investigative steps detectives could have taken, including the earlier seizure and analysis of electronic equipment belonging to Miss A. "The two officers subject to the IPCC investigation stated that they did not believe there were grounds to seize Miss A's devices and it is regrettable that they failed to document their decision-making in this regard."

The IPCC established that the officer in the case took a number of steps including examining messages about the Pontypridd rocker exchanged between Ms Mjadzelics and Miss A. They also instigated checks to identify Miss A and her child and convened a strategy meeting and conducted a joint home visit at Miss A's address with Social Services where they witnessed Miss A's interaction with her child.

But the IPCC found the detective constable and the supervising sergeant did not progress the investigation adequately. In particular they failed to document any consideration they may have given after visiting her to seize Miss A's electronic equipment and did not examine discrepancies between Miss A's account and social media messages she exchanged with Ms Mjadzelics with sufficient rigour.

They also failed to review the investigation on or after October 12, 2012, in light of the arrest of another woman, Miss B, for sexual offences. Ms Mjadzelics told Bedfordshire Police that Miss B was abusing her child before Miss B was arrested.

The fact Ms Mjadzelics' allegations had been found to have substance in relation to Miss B should have caused officers to review the information she gave in respect of Miss A, particularly in view of the fact that social media messages made clear that Miss A had knowledge of Miss B, the investigation found.

Miss A was eventually arrested on November 21, 2012, as a result of inquiries into depraved Watkins' online activity conducted by South Wales Police.

The IPCC has agreed with Bedfordshire Police's decision that the two detectives should receive management action.

The force has advised the IPCC it is providing briefings to officers within the force's Public Protection Unit as a result of learning from the investigation.

The Bedfordshire Police officers subject to the investigation provided written accounts. The IPCC said it was disappointed that both officers refused to answer questions when interviewed by their investigators, who have been looking at the force since January last year.

In a statement from the force, Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Lay said: "We are pleased that the officers involved have been exonerated of any blame concerning their actions in safeguarding the child and that the IPCC recognised that the officers acted in the best interests of the victim.

"We accept the recommendations regarding record keeping and will put a plan in place to address the issues raised."

CAPTION(S):

Paedophile Ian Watkins |
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 27, 2015
Words:680
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