Leading police officer to carry out review into Gosport hospital deaths

AN INVESTIGATION by a leading police officer into the historic deaths of hundreds of people at Gosport War Memorial Hospital will begin in September.

Friday, 27th July 2018, 5:28 pm
Updated Friday, 27th July 2018, 5:34 pm
Members of the families of people who died at Gosport War Memorial Hospital outside Portsmouth Cathedral after the disclosure of the Gosport Independent Panel's report last month. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Downing, head of serious crime for Kent and Essex Police, will lead the review after Hampshire police decided it would take a step back.

It comes after a four-year independent panel, led by Bishop James Jones, found 456 patients had their lives shortened while at the hospital between 1988 and 2000.

The report, published last month, also found another 200 '˜probably' had their lives shortened.

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Now, ACC Downing will conduct a review on behalf of Hampshire police.

The constabulary's Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney said: '˜I have ensured this decision has been shared first with the families and the Gosport Independent Panel before being communicated to the wider public.

'˜Immediately following the publication of the report, I met with relevant national policing leaders including the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for Major Crime and the National Police Operations Coordination Centre (NPOCC) to consider how to take this forward with independence from Hampshire.

'˜The scale and importance of the findings of the panel meant that I directed my request for support to the Chief Constables of the Eastern Region as the response required is not achievable from a single force.

'˜It will now be for ACC Downing to determine the terms of reference and define the scope of what happens next, working with other agencies including the Crown Prosecution Service.

'˜Hampshire Constabulary remains accountable and continues to stand ready to support the next steps in any way required.'

After reading the report, families called for a criminal investigation to start as part of their fight for justice.

They also said they did not feel confident in Hampshire police's ability to carry out any future investigation.

A statement from Kent & Essex Police said: '˜Head of serious crime, Assistant Chief Constable Nick Downing, representing the Eastern Policing Region, will be meeting various parties within the Gosport War Memorial Hospital's Independent panel report to discuss a review on behalf of Hampshire police.

'˜The review will commence in September.'

Michael Lane, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire, welcomed the appointment of ACC Downing.

'˜It is my strong belief that work to examine any new evidence and information gathered by the panel should have independent oversight,' he said.

'˜I welcome the appointment of the Eastern Region as the lead policing area to progress this vital work.

'˜It is now for Assistant Chief Constable Nick Downing, working with other agencies, to lead the next stage in ensuring the evidence in relation to these historic cases is carefully considered and appropriate action taken.'