The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating South Wales, South Yorkshire and Bedfordshire Police in connection with their handling of allegations that the lead singer of the Lostprophets was abusing children.
The IPCC is investigating the effectiveness of their response to reports of abuse made to them between 2008 and 2012.
In January 2013, the IPCC began an independent investigation into South Wales Police to establish whether or not the force failed to take appropriate and timely actions in relation to information that they were in receipt of prior to Ian Watkins’ arrest in November 2012. This followed an internal review by South Wales Police.
The IPCC is considering reports made to South Wales Police dating back to October 2008 and whether the enquiries conducted from this date onwards were appropriate under the circumstances. At this stage, the IPCC is aware of a number of reports made to the force from either members of the public, Crimestoppers or other police forces prior to Mr Watkins’ arrest in late 2012. A number of these reports originated from the same complainant.
At this stage, a significant part of the investigation is focused on the actions of one officer, a detective sergeant, who is also being investigated in a separate case where it is alleged he failed to act on an allegation that a 15 year old girl had been raped. The officer has been served with gross misconduct notices advising him that his conduct is subject to investigation.
While that officer’s conduct forms a large part of the investigation into SWP, the IPCC is considering the organisational response to the information held on Watkins and as further lines of enquiry are completed it is possible that other notices may be served.
Within the referral to the IPCC from South Wales Police, four other forces were named as having provided information to the force. We are examining what actions were taken by South Wales Police and whether they were appropriate and sufficient in the circumstances.
As a result of this, the IPCC wrote to South Yorkshire, Bedfordshire and Essex forces, and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), in February 2013 asking them to carry out a review of all the relevant information they held relating to the case. An additional letter was sent to West Yorkshire Police in March 2013 following the receipt of further information from South Wales Police.
The IPCC is now independently investigating complaints made against South Yorkshire Police and its handling of three reports made to the force between March and May 2012 which contained allegations against Mr Watkins with potential evidence.
Following a referral on 4 December 2013, the IPCC is also independently investigating Bedfordshire Police’s handling of information from a member of the public who reported an allegation of child abuse against Mr Watkins to the force in October 2012. The force Professional Standards Department initially investigated a complaint and found that no action was necessary and notified the complainant of their findings in September 2013. Bedfordshire Police has now received a further complaint that the member of the public is not satisfied with the force’s actions in October 2012 and the IPCC has begun an independent investigation.
The IPCC has considered information provided to the investigation by West Yorkshire Police, Essex Police and the MPS. At this stage the IPCC is not investigating these three forces.
In March 2009, South Wales Police contacted officers from West Yorkshire public protection unit requesting that they carry out a video interview with a member of the public who had made allegations against Ian Watkins. The IPCC understands that all copies of the video recording were passed to South Wales Police for further actions as no offences were disclosed as taking place in the West Yorkshire area.
In October 2010, the MPS provided information outlining allegations against Mr Watkins to South Wales Police.
Essex Police contacted South Wales Police and passed on information containing allegations against Mr Watkins in April 2012.
IPCC Commissioner Jan Williams said:
"No-one can fail to be shocked by the vile details of Ian Watkins offending that emerged in court last month.
"As the criminal proceedings have now ended, questions are now rightly being asked as to whether Ian Watkins could have been brought to justice sooner, what steps were taken by police in response to allegations made against him as far back as 2008 and whether his celebrity status had any impact on the investigation.
"That is exactly what the IPCC is seeking to establish.
"We now have three separate independent investigations into South Wales, South Yorkshire and Bedfordshire Police running alongside each other involving the handling of information held on Mr Watkins prior to his arrest.
"But this is complex and will take time. There are clearly links between the three investigations which cover a four year period and involve numerous allegations and reports and the police response to each must be considered.
"South Wales Police is also continuing to appeal for any other witnesses or potential victims to contact them and therefore it is possible that new information may come to light which the IPCC would need to consider.”