Police missed chances to catch paedophile rock star years before arrest – report
South Wales Police missed a series of opportunities to put a stop to the Lostprophets singer’s campaign of abuse against children.
Paedophile rock star Ian Watkins could have been caught and brought to justice nearly four years earlier if police had properly investigated reports from a series of informants, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said.
In a damning report, the IPCC details how South Wales Police missed a series of opportunities to put a stop to the Lostprophets singer’s campaign of abuse against children in the years before his arrest.
Officers were found to have made “errors and omissions” and in some instances failed to “carry out even rudimentary investigation” into reports of Watkins’s wrongdoing made by his ex-girlfriend Joanne Mjadzelics and other witnesses between 2008 and September 2012.
IPCC commissioner for Wales, Jan Williams, said the investigation raised “disturbing concerns” about the way the reports, which she said were subject to conscious or unconscious bias, had been handled.
Watkins was jailed for 29 years in December 2013 with a further six years on licence, after admitting a string of sex offences, including the attempted rape of a fan’s baby.
The disgraced singer was arrested following the execution of a drugs warrant at his Pontypridd home on September 21 2012 when a large number of computers, mobile phones and storage devices were seized.
Analysis of the equipment uncovered Watkins depraved behaviour.
Ms Mjadzelics first reported Watkins to the authorities in December 2008 and was video interviewed in March 2009 when she told officers she had a message on her mobile phone from Watkins about his desire to sexually abuse children.
The report says the phone was not examined “on the basis that her report was malicious”.
It said if the phone had been searched, it would have been found to hold a message Ian Watkins sent to Ms Mjadzelics which corroborated Ms Mjadzelics’s allegations that Watkins had expressed ‘desires to abuse children’.
Ms Mjadzelics was cleared of possessing indecent images of children in January 2015, having told Cardiff Crown Court she was trying to entrap the depraved singer.
An NSPCC Cymru Wales spokesman said the report’s damning conclusions should be a “wake-up call” for all those involved.
“That a simple unchecked mobile phone could have helped to prevent further abuse by Watkins is unthinkable, and is just one cause for significant concern among this catalogue of basic failures,” he said.
“While Watkins is now thankfully behind bars where he belongs, and improvements have already been made by South Wales Police, it’s clear that very serious mistakes were made in handling multiple early allegations and this report’s recommendations must be adopted swiftly.”
In total the IPCC investigation found South Wales Police did not adequately action eight reports and three intelligence logs from six individuals concerning the activities of Watkins between 2008 and 2012.
She added the investigation found no evidence to show that police inaction was a result of Watkins’s celebrity, rather the assessment of Ms Mjadzelics as lacking credibility.
South Wales Police accepted the findings of the IPCC report, which Ms Williams said “does provide assurance to the public that if they come forward with credible concerns, they will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly”.