Page last updated at 16:31 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 17:31 UK

Sex offender complaint is upheld

Tom Davies
Tom Davies, of the IPCC, said lessons had been learned from the case

The police watchdog has upheld a complaint about a police force's management of a sex offender.

Malcolm Hewitt, from Newport, was found guilty in August 2007 of sexually assaulting a four-year-old girl.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found "organisational failings within the force's management of sexual offenders".

Gwent Police said the findings of the investigation had been fully addressed before the report was published.

A complaint against Gwent Police was made in November 2007 by the child's mother, who alleged the force had failed to take appropriate action relating to a registered sex offender.

IPCC commissioner for Wales Tom Davies said: "Gwent Police's policies and procedures for dealing with the management of sex offenders at that time were clearly not good enough and the force took action to put this right.

We can confirm that all the investigation findings have been fully addressed by Gwent Police in advance of the publication of today's report
Gwent Police statement

"The IPCC investigation outcomes and the positive actions Gwent Police has taken in response have been explained to the girl's family by the IPCC.

"This little girl has suffered a traumatic experience and I hope that the family take some comfort that lessons have been learned from this to try and stop something similar going wrong in the future.

"While the IPCC found that two junior officers had failed in their specific duty, we concluded those failings were a symptom of more serious organisational failures which led to the overall poor management of this registered sex offender."

The IPCC upheld the complaint that Gwent Police "failed to take appropriate action to manage the movement and conduct of a registered sex offender", endangering children's welfare.

Positive response

"Gwent Police has fully accepted the IPCC investigation findings and conclusions. I have also agreed with the force that while two police constables would receive management advice, no other individual officer should face misconduct action because of the organisational failings," added Mr Davies.

During Hewitt's case at Newport Crown Court, the jury was told the offences took place in the defendant's caravan between December 2006 and April 2007.

They came to light after the girl's mother became concerned at comments she had made. Police and social services were alerted after the girl was examined by the family GP.

The IPCC listed a series of reasons for the complaint relating to Hewitt being upheld.

These included "failing to take action in relation to Hewitt's foreign travel" and "failing to make subsequent visits within recognised timescales".

There was also "no record of any supervisory involvement or review of Hewitt during the five-year management of him".

Dangerous offenders

Gwent Police said it deeply regretted what had happened and admitted there were "some things" it could have done better.

The force said in a statement: "Gwent Police referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) at an early stage and we fully accept the findings and conclusions of the IPCC investigation.

"We can confirm that all the investigation findings have been fully addressed by Gwent Police in advance of the publication of today's report."

Gwent Police said senior officers within the public protection unit "ensure that sexual and other dangerous offenders are continuously and effectively managed, making full use of national best practice and guidance".

"Whilst risk can never be completely eliminated, our procedures have been subject to rigorous, independent assessment to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the identification, assessment and management of the risk posed by sexual and violent offenders in Gwent," the force added.

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