Police failings in Fiona Pilkington case
Tuesday 24 May 2011
Officers face misconduct proceedings after IPCC report on hate crime case
Leicestershire Police failed to properly help the family of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her severely disabled daughter Francecca Hardwick in 2007, after years of torment by local youths. That was the conclusion of an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report, published on Tuesday 24 May.
The IPCC investigation concluded that ‘the failure by police officers to identify Fiona Pilkington, her son and
Francecca as a collective vulnerable family unit is at the core of Leicestershire Constabulary's failure to implement a cohesive, structured and effective approach to the harassment/anti-social behaviour from which they were suffering'.
According to the IPCC report, ‘there were systems in place which, if utilised correctly, could have shown the true picture of harassment of the family'. However, incidents were too often dealt with by police officers in isolation and with an unstructured approach.
The report also said that ‘what the officers failed to recognise and address was the difference between general anti-social behaviour and harassment. Officers should have seen how this was affecting the Pilkington family and not from the officer's own point of view and "experience" of what the area "was like".'
The report lists 33 recorded incidents between November 1997 and October 2007 when the family had contact with Leicestershire Police.
As a result of the findings, four officers will face misconduct proceedings. The IPCC has made recommendations to Leicestershire Police around information sharing between officers and the handling of vulnerable people, which the force has accepted.
David Congdon, Mencap's head of campaigns and policy, said: "Today's IPCC report exposes errors at all levels by Leicestershire Police that led to the tragic deaths of Fiona Pilkington and Francecca Hardwick. The police failed to deal with repeated incidents of anti-social behaviour or crucially to even acknowledge the persistent harassment experienced by the family as disability hate crime.
"Mencap estimates that as many as nine out of ten people with a learning disability are verbally harassed or exposed to violence due to their disability. If similar cases are to be prevented from happening again, this report underlines that police must treat disability hate crime as seriously as racial, religious and homophobic crime.
"Mencap will launch a three-year campaign against disability hate crime in June. The 'Stand by me' campaign will challenge the police, the criminal justice system and the courts to take the lead in ending hate crime against people with a learning disability within a generation."
Read the report
Find out more about the 'Stand by me' campaign