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  1. ITV Report

South Wales Police missed opportunities to convict Paedophile Ian Watkins sooner, IPCC says

South Wales Police missed opportunities to bring convicted paedophile Ian Watkins to justice sooner, according to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The former pop star was charged with child sex offences in 2013.

Paedophile rock star Ian Watkins could have been caught and brought to justice nearly four years earlier if police had properly investigated reports from a series of informants, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said.

In a report, the IPCC details how South Wales Police missed a series of opportunities to put a stop to the Lostprophet singer's campaign of abuse against children in the years before his arrest.

Officers were found to have made "errors and omissions" and in some instances failed to "carry out even rudimentary investigation" into reports of Watkins's wrongdoing made by his ex-girlfriend Joanne Mjadzelics and other witnesses between 2008 and September 2012.

IPCC commissioner for Wales, Jan Williams, said the investigation raised "disturbing concerns" about the way the reports, which she said were subject to conscious or unconscious bias, had been handled.

Watkins was jailed for 29 years in December 2013 with a further six years on licence, after admitting a string of sex offences.

Analysis of his computers uncovered Watkins behaviour.

Ms Mjadzelics first reported Watkins to the authorities in December 2008 Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Ms Mjadzelics first reported Watkins to the authorities in December 2008 and was video interviewed in March 2009 when she told officers she had a message on her mobile phone from Watkins about his desire to sexually abuse children.

The report says the phone was not examined "on the basis that her report was malicious". The message corroborated Ms Mjadzelics's allegations that Watkins had expressed 'desires to abuse children'.

Ms Mjadzelics was cleared of possessing indecent images of children in January 2015, having told Cardiff Crown Court she was trying to entrap the depraved singer.

Children's charity the NSPCC said the findings should come as a 'wake up call'

That a simple unchecked mobile phone could have helped to prevent further abuse by Watkins is unthinkable, and is just one cause for significant concern among this catalogue of basic failures.

While Watkins is now thankfully behind bars where he belongs, and improvements have already been made by South Wales Police, it's clear that very serious mistakes were made in handling multiple early allegations and this report's recommendations must be adopted swiftly.

– NSPCC Cymru Wales spokesman

In total the IPCC investigation found South Wales Police did not adequately action eight reports and three intelligence logs from six individuals concerning the activities of Watkins between 2008 and 2012.

Ms. Williams said: "Police officers will rarely encounter a perfect witness; it is vital that officers ensure they remain open-minded and pursue all appropriate lines of enquiry to establish whether there is any independent corroboration for the allegations being made."

  • Other missed opportunities in the report found:
  • The IPCC found an alleged victim and her parents were not visited by officers following Ms Mjadzelics's complaint in 2008
  • Crimestoppers reports from 2010, and reports from two witnesses in that year and in 2012 "do not appear to have been progressed", despite corroborating Ms Mjadzelics's account
  • No actions was taken on Ms Mjadzelics's email complaint to the ACPO inbox in 2011 that her reports had not been properly investigated

South Wales Police accepted the findings of the IPCC report, which Ms. Williams said "does provide assurance to the public that if they come forward with credible concerns, they will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly".

In 2012 South Wales Police initiated its own review into the sequence of events prior to the arrest of Ian Watkins.

The force identified that there were issues of concern and instigated a comprehensive overhaul of systems, policies and procedures whilst also voluntarily referring the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Today’s report highlights a number of failings in which information about Watkins was investigated between 2008 and 2012 which the force entirely accepts and regrets.

South Wales Police failed to listen and properly investigate information about Watkins offending behaviour, for this we are truly sorry.

Our primary objective in South Wales remains the safeguarding of vulnerable people. South Wales Police has since improved the way these often complex child abuse investigations are managed by carrying out a detailed review into public protection processes and structures, which has been acknowledged by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

– South Wales Police Statement

Following the investigation it was decided one officer had a case to answer for gross misconduct, and two officers had a case to answer for misconduct.

At a hearing in May, Detective Sergeant Andrew Whelan was cleared of wrongdoing and a decision has been made not to take any further action concerning two detective constables.

In a report issued last Friday, the IPCC found that three officers from South Yorkshire Police would have a case to answer for gross misconduct, but as each has retired following 30 years' service, no further action can be taken.

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