The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating Kent Police’s response to information about a person of interest related to an investigation into a number of alleged sexual offences.
On 7 February John Williams, 46, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of sexual assault between 9 November 2010 and 2 August 2013, and an indecent assault and attempted theft of a handbag in 1991. He asked for 16 further sexual and theft offences to be taken into consideration.
The allegations had been under investigation by Kent Police since November 2010 and were linked across a number of operations.
Mr Williams was identified as a person of interest to the investigation in October 2012 after a member of the public responded to an e-fit of the suspect released in the local media.
Kent Police referred the case to the IPCC on 2 January 2014 after concerns were identified regarding the handling of an action to take a DNA sample from Mr Williams in November 2012.
Mr Williams was interviewed by Kent Police in September 2013 and a DNA sample was taken which matched him to sexual assaults in 2012.
He was later arrested in connection with the sexual assaults and charged with offences dating back to 1991. Two of the attacks took place in the summer of 2013. Both victims have been informed of the IPCC investigation.
IPCC investigators have served gross misconduct notices on two officers, a detective chief inspector and a detective constable, advising them their conduct is subject to investigation.
– IPCC Commissioner Mary Cunneen
The fact that John Williams was identified as a potential suspect in autumn 2012, yet a DNA sample was not taken from him until almost a year later, is concerning. During the intervening period he carried out two more attacks on young women.
It is right that we independently establish what actions were or should have been taken by police from September 2012 onwards and the repercussions these may have had on the investigation into the sexual assaults.
It takes courage for victims of sexual offences to come forward and report their experience to police, and they must do so with the confidence that their allegations will be dealt with promptly and sensitively to support them through the process.
As the force became of aware of these concerns in October, we are also examining the delay in referring the matter to the IPCC.”