Greater Manchester Police have agreed to pay compensation to a homeless woman who woke up in her tent at night to find a stranger touching her while he carried out a sexual act on himself.

Despite reporting the incident to police, the case was closed shortly afterwards without officers having taken a formal statement from the woman or a witness.

It was also claimed that had the police undertaken a proportionate investigation they would have established a link to four other sexual assaults on other women.

At the time of the incident the vulnerable woman was sleeping on the streets of Manchester City Centre.

One night, in August 2020, she woke to find the man in her tent with his hand inside her clothes.

The woman immediately reported the incident to police and officers arrived at the scene. However, she maintained they spoke to her only briefly in the back of a patrol car.

CCTV footage was later reviewed by police and then the sexual assault case was closed.

No formal statements were taken from her or her partner who was a witness, and no other potential witnesses were interviewed.

She discussed the sexual assault with other homeless women in the days after and, disturbingly, four others said they had also experienced a similar assault.

‘These sexual assaults on vulnerable homeless women in Manchester City Centre were not minor offences’

Greater Manchester Police has agreed to pay our the victim £2,800.

Nicola Bailey-Gibbs, associate at Hudgell Solicitors in Criminal Injuries and Civil Liberties, who represented the woman said the consequences of the police officers’ actions in failing to investigate could have been catastrophic:

“We know that Sarah Everard’s killer was exposing himself in public before going on to commit a murder, these offences simply cannot be taken lightly. Investigations are underway into how police forces handled allegations that Wayne Couzens indecently exposed himself and whether the appropriate actions were taken, including whether policies and procedures were followed.

“These sexual assaults on vulnerable homeless women in Manchester City Centre were not minor offences and these officers should not have treated them as minor offences. They were a series of disturbing sexual assaults that should have prompted concern amongst officers whose job it is to protect the public, whoever they may be and whatever circumstances they find themselves in.

“This may well have been a serial sex attacker and Greater Manchester Police officers appear not to have been open to that possibility. Sexual assaults cannot be ignored, by doing so the consequences could be catastrophic. My client and other vulnerable women deserve better, and I hope the Greater Manchester Police Force has reviewed the way it responds to and investigates reports of sexual assaults.”


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