A mother who killed herself and her disabled daughter in a burning car had contacted police more than 30 times about abuse claims, an inquest heard.
The inquest heard how the family were “under siege” in their home but police filed the incidents as the less serious “grade two” and considered her to be “over-reacting”.
The jury was told Ms Pilkington’s son Anthony, who has severe dyslexia, was locked in a shed at knifepoint and beaten with a metal bar. The gang also shouted at Francesca, who has severe learning difficulties, to lift up her nightdress. They also pelted the family’s home with eggs, flour and stones and shouted insults about the children’s disabilities.
Leicester Police said they logged 33 complaints from Ms Pilkington about a gang between 2000 and 2007, including 13 in the 10 months before her death. Ms Pilkington’s mother said a gang of up to 16 youths would stand at the front of the family house shouting that they could do “anything they liked to the family”. *
The coroner responding to the tepid responses of Leicestershire’s Assistance Chief Constable, Mr Chris Tew, correctly pointed him towards law and reality. Coroner Olivia Davison explained ‘’ It seems to me that, given the history and the context of the abuse, it would not have been anti-social behaviour but a crime because we had people being hounded in their own home … If a police officer reflected on these incidents, an attempt might have been made to apprehend the individuals who were doing this, charge them and bring them before a youth court, rather than passing them on to the council who will write them a letter they will probably ignore.’’
Who is going to bring each gang member to account in court and will the Independent Police Complaints Commission initiate a formal inquiry about the conduct of Leicestershire police? What a frightening and degrading life this innocent family was subjected to by their community. Imagine the level of despair that brings a person take their life and child’s? What does this tell us about the people and public services of Britain beyond the political executive hype that patronises but fails to protect us?
* BBC News 17 September 2009