Caldwell case: Police would protect reputation first again – ex-federation chief

A former senior Scottish Police Federation official has said he fears the force would act the same way and “look for its own reputation first” following criticism over its handling of the 2005 Emma Caldwell murder.

The family of Miss Caldwell said police failed their daughter and the other women raped by her killer, Iain Packer, due to a “toxic culture of misogyny and corruption”, following his conviction and sentencing on Wednesday.

Police Scotland has apologised to the family of Miss Caldwell and his other victims, admitting they were “let down” by policing.

Miss Caldwell was reported missing by her family in April 2005 and her body was found the following month in Limefield Woods, near Biggar, South Lanarkshire.

Iain Packer
Iain Packer was jailed for life (Police Scotland/PA)

Calum Steele, who retired as Scottish Police Federation general secretary last year, said that following a Sunday Mail newspaper story which branded Packer “the forgotten suspect” in 2015, police had failed to “concentrate wholly and exclusively on the reinvestigation of the murder” and had instead focused on finding journalistic sources quoted in the article.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that he briefed former first minister Nicola Sturgeon about the situation and described it as “potentially one of the biggest scandals that was taking place in Scottish policing.”

He said there was a parliamentary inquiry into the activities of the counter corruption unit, as it was then, and three separate police inquiries involving different police forces into the activities of the police service.

However, he said: “I fear, though, that despite those activities, and despite those investigations, that the police service even today would undertake the exact same thing.

“It would look for its own reputation first rather than deal with the severity of the issues that were before it.”

The Scottish Police Federation is a staff organisation – similar to a union – which represents officers up to the rank of chief inspector.

Packer, 51, of Glasgow, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 36 years on Wednesday following a six-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Emma Caldwell murder court case
Margaret Caldwell, mother of Emma Caldwell, following the sentencing on Wednesday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Steele said: “The probability is that Iain Packer should have been convicted a long time ago, at the time of Strathclyde Police, had senior officers undertaken their duties properly, had they acted with all of the responsibilities that the office of constable bestows upon them and had they listened to the evidence that was being presented to them by junior colleagues that were involved in the investigation.

“Of course, they did not do that.”

Mr Steele said he has “no idea why things didn’t happen as they should have with the original inquiry”.

Police apologised for the way the investigation was handled in 2005 following Packer’s conviction on Wednesday.

Assistant Chief Constable for Major Crime and Public Protection, Bex Smith, said: “Emma Caldwell, her family and many other victims, were let down by policing in 2005. For that we are sorry.

“A significant number of women and girls who showed remarkable courage to speak up at that time also did not get the justice and support they needed and deserved from Strathclyde Police.

“Police Scotland launched a re-investigation of the case in 2015 after instruction from the Lord Advocate.

“It is clear that further investigations should have been carried out into Emma’s murder following the initial enquiry in 2005.

“The lack of investigation until 2015 caused unnecessary distress to her family and all those women who had come forward to report sexual violence.”

Police Scotland said it has worked hard to improve anti-corruption practices.

A spokesperson said: “With regards to the investigation into information provided to the media, an Investigatory Powers Tribunal has found that in 2015 Police Scotland wrongly sought to use communications data to identify the source of information provided to a journalist.

“This was contrary to the code of practice established in 2015 and incompatible with the journalist’s rights.

“We apologised during the tribunal.

“We have worked hard to improve our anti-corruption practices and use of investigatory powers and strive to place our values of integrity, fairness, respect and a commitment to human rights at the heart of what we do.”

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