Exclusive: How South Yorkshire Police missed multiple chances to stop Lostprophets paedophile Ian Watkins

Ian Watkins
Ian Watkins

South Yorkshire Police officers ignored repeated warnings from the ex-girlfriend of rock star Ian Watkins that he was a dangerous paedophile - and put a child at risk of being abused for months.

Exclusive interview: I warned police Ian Watkins was a dangerous paedophile - but they prosecuted me instead

Draft Independent Police Complaints Commission findings seen by The Yorkshire Post shows officers in Doncaster failed to take seriously complaints made over three months by Joanne Mjadzelics about the Lostprophets singer, who is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for sex offences including the attempted rape of a fan’s baby.

The draft IPCC press release, sent in error to The Yorkshire Post by South Yorkshire Police, was due to officially be made public next week but has now been published following the error. Police this afternoon apologised to Ms Mjadzelics for the "unacceptable" way they handled her complaints.

Three police officers who were found to have a case to answer for gross misconduct over their inaction over the allegations have all retired - meaning no action will be taken against them.

And emails seen by The Yorkshire Post reveal that the IPCC does not intend to publish the report in full.

Joanne Mjadzelics

Joanne Mjadzelics

An IPCC staff member said: “We do not intend to publish the investigation report.”

One officer who was found to have a case to answer for misconduct over alleged inappropriate remarks made to Ms Mjadzelics will face a hearing.

Ms Mjadzelics herself was taken to court on child pornography charges in 2015 but was cleared by a jury after they accepted her account that she was trying to entrap Watkins and trick him into revealing his crimes.

The Yorkshire Post says: Lostprophets paedophile case - why police must be transparent

After her court case in January 2015, Ms Mjadzelics said she “went through hell” because police did not properly investigate Watkins.

She told the jury during the trial that police had ignored her reports about Watkins because she was a prostitute who they thought was a “nut job”.

In the draft, IPCC Commissioner Jan Williams is quoted as saying: “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.

“The evidence suggests that 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 sufficiently thoroughly. I have recommended they create a policy document setting out what is expected of officers in collaborating on serious offence investigations.”

Inside the Yorkshire jail where Ian Watkins was held and where many sex abusers still deny their guilt

But an email exchange shows the IPCC did not intend to publish the full investigation report when it made the findings public next Friday at the same time as findings on allegations against South Wales Police involving Watkins were revealed.

Ms Mjadzelics made reports to officers between March and May 2012 about Watkins and subsequently complained to the IPCC that officers failed to conduct an examination of her laptop when she took it to Doncaster Police Station three times during that period.

The laptop allegedly contained an indecent image of a child that Watkins, then lead singer of the Lostprophets rock band, had allegedly sent her.

The draft says: “The investigation found that a request in early March 2012 from South Wales Police for assistance with allegations from Ms Mjadzelics was initially allocated to the SYP Safer Neighbourhood Team, rather than its specialist Public Protection Unit .

“This led to a police constable with no training in the investigation of child sex abuse, or in the handling and preservation of evidence in computer-related offences, conducting an initial meeting with Ms Mjadzelics at Doncaster police station.

“The constable did not view any image, and there was no subsequent determined effort to ascertain whether Ms Mjadzelics had evidence of child sexual abuse in her possession.

“Later, in May 2012, a constable from the PPU had been instructed by a senior officer to seize the laptop at a further meeting with Ms Mjadzelics at Doncaster police station and to take a statement, but neither action was undertaken.

“On viewing the relevant alleged close-up indecent image of a child at the meeting, officers believed it to be of an adult female.

“The investigation also considered the supervisory actions of a police sergeant over other officers involved.

“In the IPCC investigator’s opinion, there was sufficient evidence that a police constable involved could have made inappropriate remarks to Ms Mjadzelics at the police station, about the reasons why she was making allegations about Watkins.

“The IPCC investigation considered a range of national and force policies on child abuse enquiries, and powers of seizure under PACE.

“Ian Watkins was arrested on 21 September 2012 by South Wales Police, initially in connection with drugs offences.

“He was further arrested on 24 October 2012 on suspicion of possession of indecent images of children and of publishing an obscene article.”

South Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable David Hartley said this afternoon that the force entirely accepts the findings of the IPCC investigation in the handling of the allegations made concerning Ian Watkins.

ACC Hartley said: “Our handling of this matter fell far below the standard the public or we as a service would expect, and I would like to offer my sincere apologies to Ms Mjadzelics as she received a service that was unacceptable with no support.

“As a service, we are absolutely committed to working together to protect the most vulnerable, achieve justice, and prevent future offending. We take all reports of this nature extremely seriously.

“Ms Mjadzelics had a right to expect, and demand better from South Yorkshire Police.

“The Force has made significant organisational and structural change to best serve the victims of child sexual abuse (CSA) child sexual exploitation (CSE) over the last few years.

“Five separate trials for CSA and CSE related crimes have resulted in the conviction of 24 offenders, with over 300-years imprisonment.

“Additional resources have been invested and we have set up multi-agency CSE teams across South Yorkshire, which include representatives from Social Care, the NHS and Barnado’s. All have well established links with other support agencies.

“CSA investigative teams are also now located alongside partners to ensure a multi-agency approach and that information is shared. Training has been provided to front line staff from all agencies to improve the awareness and recognition of CSA and CSE. We also work closely with survivors to improve our response and develop training for future learning.

“As a service we have made many improvements, but we fully recognise there is more to do and further lessons to be learned to develop our service to be the very best it can be.

“In March 2016, Professor John Drew published the findings of his independent review in to South Yorkshire Police’s response to child sexual exploitation.

“His report found that “considerable lessons had been learned” and that there had been “significant improvements” since the Jay Report was published in 2014.

“We wholly accept the recommendations set out by the IPCC in this report and we are actively progressing them to continue to improve and provide the highest level of this vital service to public.”

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