10:43 BST Thursday 5th July 2018
Today the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) have announced a new investigation into how Dorset Police handled the rape case brought by Gaia Pope two years before her death in November 2017. This will run parallel with the IOPC investigation into how Dorset Police handled the teenager’s disappearance.
Gaia was reported missing on 7 November 2017 in Swanage, Dorset by a family member. Her family communicated their concern for the missing teenager, who had Post Traumatic Stress disorder, following a serious sexual assault when she was 17. Gaia had epilepsy and did not have her medication when she went missing.
Following a police investigation and a public search for Gaia in which thousands of people participated, her body was found 11 days after her disappearance within a mile of where she was last seen.
In the months before her death she was increasingly afraid that the man who raped her and threatened her family would soon be eligible for early release. In addition to concerns about the conduct of the police, the family have questions about whether a lack of support from underfunded mental health and social services contributed to Gaia’s death.
Gaia’s family welcome the decision, highlighting the profound impact that the rape and failed investigation had on Gaia, who developed symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after she became aware that a number of other women and girls had made similar allegations against the same perpetrator.
When the police made a decision to take no further action in respect of her allegations she became disturbed by the fear that these allegations suggested a pattern of young or vulnerable women being targeted and groomed.
Gaia believed a more effective investigation may have secured a longer prison sentence, identifying other perpetrators and protecting potential victims.
Natasha Pope, Gaia’s mother : “There is no doubt in my mind: this is what drove Gaia up the hill that night. I am relieved that at last, it will be properly investigated and I am resolved to see positive change. It was not her intention but in a way, my daughter gave her life to shine a light on all this.”
Maya Pope-Sutherland, Gaia’s sister : “It feels like we’ve been screaming in a vacuum for a long time but now we will break the silence. I hope our search for answers can open the door to positive change and help other survivors be heard and get justice. It’s what Gaia would have wanted.”
Clara Pope-Sutherland, Gaia’s sister : “Survivors of sexual violence deserve to be heard, supported and protected. Gaia will be more than another statistic to show that’s not the case. Hand in hand, she leads the way with all survivors. We are grateful to the IOPC for recognising the need to investigate. We hope it will begin to give Gaia the voice she so deserved when she was alive.”
Marienna Pope-Weidemann, Gaia’s cousin : “Access to justice and to recovery has become a privilege reserved for those who can afford it. Gaia fell through the cracks in that system and she died there. Some nights I can’t sleep, can’t breathe, I miss her so much. We all do. But then the sun comes up and it feels like fighting for her rights is all that matters, even now. Especially now.”
Richard Sutherland, Gaia’s father : “We need to know if more could have been done to make Gaia feel safe and protect the public. Nothing can bring her back to us but a thorough, transparent and unbiased investigation will help us move forwards. We need to know the truth.”
Harriet Wistrich, of Birnberg Peirce, who is representing the family : “Gaia’s death illustrates the severe mental health impact, not only of sexual violence but also of investigative failures by the police. Representing victims in the Worboys’ case informs me that where victims are aware they may have been one of many targeted by their perpetrator, a sense of responsibility for preventing further harm can weigh heavily. But ultimately, it is the responsibility of the police, not victims, to protect women from dangerous sex offenders.”
Deborah Coles, executive director of INQUEST : ”There is a clear link between the trauma of rape and mental ill-health. Despite this, too many victims of sexual violence are failed by statutory agencies. It is tragic that it took Gaia’s death for the response of the police to be scrutinised. We hope this investigation will deliver truth for this family, and help to bring about changes that are so urgently needed.”
Pic Andrew Latcham – Pic Credit Dorset Police
Lee Dolbear Thursday 26-4-2018 at 1001 BST
Dorset Police received a report of a body found in the River Stour at Charlton Marshall on Thursday 19th April.
The body has now been identified as missing Blandford man Andrew Latcham.
His family has been informed and the coroner has been notified.
Mr Latcham, aged 70, had been reported missing on Saturday 30 December 2017.
His death is not being treated as suspicious.
Dorset Police added “Our thoughts are with Andrew’s family at this difficult time and they are continuing to be supported by specially-trained officers.”
0040 BST Friday 30 March 2018
Dorset Police are appealing for witnesses after a three-year-old boy tragically died in Wareham on Thursday morning.
The incident happened at around 08:43 when an articulated lorry collided with a child, who was crossing the road with his family.
The boy sustained very serious injuries and was taken to Dorset County Hospital for treatment. Very tragically, he was pronounced dead a short time later. The coroner has been notified.
A 43-year-old man from Basingstoke was arrested on suspicion of driving offences but he has since been released under investigation as police enquiries continue.
Inspector Matt Butler, of the traffic unit, said: “Very sadly I can confirm that a three-year-old boy has died today following a collision. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very traumatic time. They have requested privacy.
“A full investigation is underway into the circumstances of the collision and I would ask anyone who witnessed the incident or saw the manner of driving of the lorry immediately before to please come forward.
“I am also keen to hear from any motorists who were travelling along North Street at the relevant time and have dashcam fitted in their vehicles.”
Flowers, notes and toys were left on a bench near the scene.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at http://www.dorset.police.uk, via email at email@example.com or by calling 101, quoting incident number 29:65. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
Wednesday 31 January – 1600 GMT
Dorset Police are appealing for witnesses following reports of an assault in Weymouth. A police constable was also assaulted trying to detain a woman in connection with the incident.
At 3.30am on Tuesday 30 January 2018 police were called to Actors Bar in Maiden Street following reports that two women had been punched in the face.
Officers attended and as one police constable went to detain a woman at the scene he was reportedly assaulted. He was taken to hospital for treatment to injuries to his hand and jaw.
The woman also reportedly spat at an officer when she was taken to the Weymouth custody suite.
An 18-year-old Weymouth woman has been arrested on suspicion of assaulting an officer in the execution of their duty and has been released under investigation.
Police Constable Susan Tagg, of Weymouth police, said: “We are making a number of enquiries into this incident and I am keen to speak to the two alleged victims of the reported assault at Actors Bar, who we have not identified and are yet to give an account to police.
“I would urge these two women, or anyone else with information about the incident, to get in touch.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55180015347. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
Wednesday 24th January 2018 0904 GMT
Police are appealing for witnesses following a burglary in Weymouth.
The victim, a man aged in his 60s, returned to his home in Melcombe Avenue at around 7.20pm on Friday 19 January 2018, having been away since approximately 4pm the previous day.
He found that the back door had apparently been forced open and a number of items had been taken from upstairs in the house including two laptops, a number of watches, items of jewellery, a camcorder and a camera.
The victim also discovered that his car, a Jaguar XF R-Sport saloon, had been stolen from the driveway.
Police Constable Chloe Chapman, of Weymouth police, said: “We are continuing to investigate this incident and have carried out a number of enquiries, including visiting houses in the area and attempting to trace the stolen vehicle.
“I am appealing to any witnesses to the burglary, or anyone who has any information that can assist our investigation, to contact police immediately.
“I would also like to hear from anyone who saw a car matching the description given in the area around the time of the burglary.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at http://www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101 or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55180009927. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or via http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org.