Findings of the watchdog

Suzanne Holdsworth (left) and Kyle Fisher
Suzanne Holdsworth (left) and Kyle Fisher

THE Independent Police Complaints Commission probe into the 27 allegations made against Cleveland Police concluded that there was no evidence to support any of the claims.

The IPCC’s inquiries were carried out in two parts, with the first to review the initial in-house investigation into the allegations that were conducted by Cleveland Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Sean White.

The second was to interview the officers involved.

The review picked out two specific areas which were subject to complaints.

One was of CCTV material from a shop and the other was of the testing of the bannister said to have been the cause of Kyle Fisher’s injury.

Allegations regarding both subjects were found to have been unsubstantiated, but the IPCC investigation concluded that there are two “areas of learning” for Cleveland Police.

They are:

1) A need for absolute detail and clarity within record keeping;

2) The benefit of peer review in major criminal investigations to ensure senior investigating officers are fully supported within their analysis and decision making. This would assist in ensuring any potential areas of inquiry are not closed at key parts of an investigation.

IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said: “This was a complex investigation into a tragic and highly emotive case. At the heart of this is the death of a two-year-old boy and the wrongful conviction of a woman.

“Suzanne Holdsworth went through the traumatic experience of being convicted for a murder, serving time in prison and then having to go through a retrial before being formally acquitted.

“Ms Holdsworth and her partner Lee Spencer are entirely justified in seeking answers as to why she went through this experience.

“I believe this investigation has been a comprehensive investigation and examined each and every complaint in detail. What it has concluded is that those complaints cannot be substantiated. There is no evidence of any misconduct.

“However, it is clear the issue surrounding the CCTV footage from the shop was a crucial aspect to Ms Holdsworth and Mr Spencer. It was evidence which could have proven Ms Holdsworth’s account of her movements on the day.

“The poor record keeping by the police officers around this does not reflect well on Cleveland Police, hence the recommendation about the need for absolute clarity and detail. But I believe in respect of this specific matter Cleveland Police should consider whether Ms Holdsworth deserves an apology. This is not something the IPCC can force Cleveland Police to do, but I believe it is the right thing to do.”