Norfolk Chief Constable admits there were failings into claims of sexual assault from jailed Tasburgh man

Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey
Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey

Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey says there were failings in how the police dealt with sexual assault claims against a jailed former Tasburgh resident.

Dr Hugh O’Neill was contracted as Norfolk Constabulary’s Force Medical Advisor between 1991 and 2003, during which he used his position to sexually assault a number of female officers.

I’m sorry that during the recent criminal investigation and the Essex inquiry, those involved had to relive the experiences which they endured at the hands of O’Neill

Norfolk Police Chief Constable Simon Bailey

He pleaded guilty to 13 offences of indecent assault, and was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in April last year. This sentence was added to a 12-year prison sentence from January 2015 for offences of rape and sexual assault, unconnected to his role at the police.

In 1993 and 2002 female officers had made allegations of sexual assault against O’Neill. These were investigated at the time – but no criminal charges were brought.

In 2014 Mr Bailey made a referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concerning Norfolk Constabulary’s handing of the allegation. It was conduction by the Essex Police Serious Crime Directorate.

In the 1993 investigation, two retired officers were investigated for criminal and misconduct offences – but the Crown Prosecution Service determined there was insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal prosecution. In relation to conduct matters, DCC Nick Dean determined there could have been a case to answer for gross misconduct –but as the officers are retired, no further action can be taken.

And in relation to the 2002/03 investigation, a conduct investigation was carried out in relation to two retired officers, one serving, and one police staff member.

For the two retired officers, there could have a case for misconduct, DCC Dean determined – but no further action can be taken. For the police staff member and officer, there is no case to answer.

Mr Bailey admitted there had been failings in both the 1993 and 2002/03 investigations.

“This has been one of the most detailed and extensive enquiries involving former and retired officers and staff that I have ever experienced,” he said.

“On behalf of the victims it was vital that we examined and assessed the organisation’s response to these earlier allegations, notwithstanding the fact that they would all recognise that the way in which the police respond to and deal with allegations such as these has changed considerably since the investigations took place. I am acutely aware of the impact this case has had on the affected officers.

“I’m sorry that during the recent criminal investigation and the Essex inquiry, those involved had to relive the experiences which they endured at the hands of O’Neill.

“I am immensely proud of the way in which they have conducted themselves throughout and I will be speaking to them personally about the outcome of the investigation.”