Fiona Pilkington police officers cleared
Wednesday 21 September 2011
The IPCC rules no misconduct in events that led to deaths of Fiona Pilkington and Francecca Hardwick
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has ruled that four Leicestershire police officers were not guilty of misconduct following the deaths of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter Francecca Hardwick, who had a learning disability.
Ms Pilkington, 38, and Francecca, 18, died in 2007 in a Leicestershire lay-by after suffering years of harassment from a local gang. Ms Pilkington poured petrol over the back seat of her car before setting it alight.
In the ten years leading up to their deaths, the family had complained to Leicestershire Police at least 33 times about harassment. Youths had allegedly set fire to the family’s fence, thrown stones and eggs at the house, stolen a chequebook and punched and threatened to kill Ms Pilkington’s son.
In Ms Pilkington’s final complaint to the police, she reported that two girls were jumping on the hedge in her garden and imitating the way that Francecca walked. She was told that no officer could attend, but advised to close the curtains and ignore the abuse.
Hate crime victims
Earlier this year, the IPCC found that the family should have been identified as vulnerable. The coroner who presided over the inquiry into the deaths found that the family would have received more support if officers were aware of Francecca's disability.
Mark Goldring, Mencap’s chief executive, said: "It is extremely shocking and disappointing that no one has been held accountable for the failure to protect Francecca Hardwick and Fiona Pilkington. Fiona and Francecca's deaths represented a complete failure in the police’s ability to respond adequately to disability hate crime victims."
"We call on the IPCC to urgently re-open the Pilkington case to assess whether sufficient change to policies and practices has taken place, or whether these failures could in fact be repeated."
The verdict comes just days after the Equality and Human Rights Commission published the results of its inquiry into disability-related harassment.
Find out more about Mencap's Stand by me campaign against hate crime