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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 July 2007, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Police rape complaints are upheld
Geoff Cole
Geoff Cole made eight complaints against South Wales Police
Complaints have been upheld against South Wales Police on the handling of the rape of a man after he was wrongly accused of being a paedophile.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) accused the force and some individual officers of failing Geoffrey Cole.

South Wales Police have apologised to Mr Cole, 60, and his wife.

Lies spread about Mr Cole led to the attack near his Resolven home in October 2005, detectives have said.

He was attacked as he walked his dog late at night in a lane very close to his home.

Moments before he recalled seeing a man loitering alongside the road and apparently talking into a mobile phone.

The only clue to the attacker was the warning he gave Mr Cole to "stay away from Cory Street" in Resolven.

Last year, Mr Cole waived his anonymity as a rape victim and contributed to a BBC Crimewatch reconstruction of the attack.

Resolven
The Coles have moved as their home overlooked the lane where he was attacked

While the police investigation failed to trace the attacker, it did identify the person who had circulated the unfounded rumour about him.

But, Mr Cole was told, officers were powerless to act because it was a civil not criminal matter.

Unhappy with the way they had conducted their investigation, Mr Cole made eight separate complaints - criticising police for failing to react quickly enough to his allegations and secure the crime scene.

At the end of an 18-month investigation, the IPCC upheld two and partially upheld a further two.

The report criticised the force for a failure to preserve the crime scene and accused officers of failing both the victim and the people of south Wales. In total, it made 18 recommendations and two recommendations for individual officers.

We also apologise to Mr and Mrs Cole for where our service was not up to the standard our communities expect and deserve
Assistant chief constable Dave Morris

It recommended that the duty officer at the crime scene should have a written warning for failing to be "conscientious and diligent in the execution of his duties".

It also concluded the on-call detective inspector, who has since retired, failed to be "conscientious and diligent" by not visiting the scene.

The control room inspector at the time should be given guidance for failing to recognise the seriousness of the allegations, it added.

Four complaints from Mr Cole against the case forensic medical examiner have been referred to the Healthcare Inspectorate for Wales.

Assistant chief constable Dave Morris from South Wales Police said it would act on recommendations "to ensure a more effective service in the future".

"We also apologise to Mr and Mrs Cole for where our service was not up to the standard our communities expect and deserve," he said.

'Distressing time'

"The subsequent investigation of this crime and the support provided to both Mr and Mrs Cole through their ordeal has been to a high standard."

He added that anyone with any information about the crime should come forward and they were "committed to bringing whoever was responsible for this crime to justice".

IPCC Wales commissioner Tom Davies said it had been a "very distressing time for Mr and Mrs Cole" and he hoped they could continue to rebuild their lives now the investigation was concluded.

"The successful prosecution for rape in England and Wales is not very high and therefore victims of alleged rape should expect the highest investigatory standards," he said.

"By failing to properly preserve the potential crime scene, South Wales Police did not serve Mr Cole or the people of south Wales well in this instance."




SEE ALSO
Unsolved rape inquiry wound down
09 Aug 06 |  South West Wales
Sex victim tells of lies campaign
06 Apr 06 |  South West Wales

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