Page last updated at 03:19 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 04:19 UK

Rape case was 'a complete mess'

Woman with head in her hands
The rape conviction rape currently stands at 6%
As a leading officer calls for specialist rape investigation squads in every police force to help improve victim care and increase conviction rates, one mother tells of her daughter's experience of the criminal justice system.

Susan's daughter was 15 when she reported a rape by a man in his 20s she had met the previous day.

The case went to court, but collapsed after an officer lost key evidence.

"It was a complete mess from start to finish. It was actually a specialist Sapphire unit which is meant to be a flagship for rape," Susan said.

"My daughter was 15, she looked about 12 at the time, but they did not seem to take it seriously."

'Worst feeling'

Susan said the family lacked support from officers during the investigation.

"You are supposed to be kept informed but it didn't feel like that. I felt like I had to keep behind them all the time, and that can't be right."

Because of the missing evidence, the judge directed the jury towards a "not guilty" verdict.

"My daughter said when the verdict came in, it felt like she wasn't believed. She said that was the worst feeling in the world," Susan said.

When you watch your daughter suffer like that… it ripples out through the whole family, like throwing a stone into a pond

After the case collapsed, Susan contacted her local MP who arranged a meeting with the force's chief police officer.

He apologised and said her daughter had been let down, before arranging for her to receive compensation.

Susan's daughter received £11,000 with which she bought a car.

"But no amount of money will take away what has happened to her," Susan said.

The case is now being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Severe depression

Two years on, the whole family is still affected by the incident.

"My daughter is worse now," Susan said.

"Now she's going into adulthood, she's seeming to realise the damage it has done to her.

"My other daughter is 15 now and my husband and I are completely paranoid with both of them.

"I don't trust the police anymore. My daughter said if it happened again she wouldn't report it to the police as she couldn't go through that again. She went through a character assassination in court."

Susan's daughter is now studying at college and has two part-time jobs but suffers from severe depression.

"She has very, very down times. I'm not in a good way either. When you watch your daughter suffer like that…it ripples out through the whole family, like throwing a stone into a pond.

"I feel traumatised by the whole thing, like it's never going to go away. You wonder whether it is ever going to get better."

Susan's name has been changed to protect her daughter's anonymity.

Rape victims: How law let us down
31 Jan 07 |  Have Your Say
Rape procedures overhaul outlined
14 Jun 06 |  Scotland

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