Operation Annaside was launched back in December following allegations of serious sexual offences, however following a thorough investigation and independent advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), as well as a specialist barrister, the decision has been made to take no further action against the individuals.
Over the course of the investigation residential and commercial properties were searched including a workshop in the Sandown area, which was searched inch-by-inch for over 7 days, as well as further forensic searches at residential properties in Ryde and Cowes and two properties in Newport. DNA, photographs, fingerprints and shoe prints were collected from civilians working near to the workshop in Sandown, which is believed to have been the main focal point of the investigation.
A total of 13 people, including Police officers and business professionals, were questioned during Operation Annaside following information reported by a local woman. Following 6 arrests in December, an additional 7 arrests were made in February as a result of further enquiries into related information from the same victim.
Specialist officers from Hampshire Constabulary have met with the victim to inform her of the CPS advice and the decisions taken by Hampshire Constabulary. There are no further lines of enquiry at this time, and the allegations are not being linked to any other known cases or crimes.
Following an extensive investigation, Hampshire Constabulary submitted a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in February 2015. The CPS response acknowledged the comprehensive nature of the police investigation, and concluded that there was a lack of supporting evidence.
Independent scrutiny has included:
• A senior detective from Thames Valley Police (TVP) was invited to carry out a voluntary independent review of Hampshire Constabulary’s work on the case. This officer concluded that the investigation was “very balanced, proportionate and timely.”
• The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was voluntarily notified by Hampshire Constabulary ahead of the initial arrests. IPCC requested to be kept informed and the force has continued to liaise.
• A further layer of independence was achieved by submitting the file of evidence to CPS South East rather CPS Wessex with whom the Constabulary has a day-to-day working relationship.
Hampshire Constabulary’s Isle of Wight District commander, Superintendent Julie Fry said:
“Investigating any allegation fully, irrespective of those involved, is essential to maintaining public trust and confidence in policing.
“Lines of enquiry during Operation Annaside have been conducted with meticulous care and precision due to the exceptionally sensitive nature of these allegations, and the impact on the lives, families and welfare of everyone affected.
“We have made every effort to handle this investigation with fairness, transparency and impartial scrutiny.”
None of the Police officers arrested during the cause of the operation will face any disciplinary proceedings as there are no grounds to suggest any misconduct. As a result, the three officers suspended from duty while on bail will return to work with Hampshire Constabulary later this year.
Supt Fry commented:
“We have full confidence in the honesty and integrity of the three officers, all of whom have been exonerated. They have been supported throughout the investigation by dedicated welfare officers and representatives from the Police Federation.”