A police watchdog has found a previous allegation against a serial rapist for drugging and raping a man was not passed to an investigation team probing four similar incidents.
Sam Ashley, 30, was already being monitored by police due to a child sex offence conviction in 2013 when he went on to rape and drug men he met on the gay hook-up app Grindr in 2016.
But a report found investigators looking into the attacks were not told by Hampshire police’s offender management team that he was investigated in 2006 for a similar allegation.
Ashley was not prosecuted over the old allegation, which he denied, that he raped an intoxicated man.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct report also reveals Ashley, of Lynton Gardens, Fareham, was not formally rated a ‘high risk’ until after the fourth victim in 2016 alleged he had been raped.
After a five-month investigation the IOPC made five recommendations following the case of Ashley, who was on Monday jailed for 23 years.
The watchdog said ‘two Hampshire Constabulary staff should receive management action regarding their performance and (we) offered learning recommendations on how sex offenders should be managed that have been accepted and acted upon by Hampshire Constabulary’.
Two people from Hampshire police, a staff investigator and a detective sergeant, both from offender management, were investigated by the IOPC but no misconduct proceedings were bought.
IOPC regional director Sarah Green said: ‘Mr Ashley has been convicted of extremely serious offences and has been jailed for a significant length of time.
‘It should be made clear that while our investigation did not reveal any behaviour by any Hampshire employees that could be considered misconduct, we did make some recommendations as to how the force could improve the way it manages people on the registered sex offenders list.
‘I am pleased that Hampshire has moved quickly to accept and implement those recommendations.’
Published today, the report reveals in December 2016 the detective sergeant requested Ashley’s risk level to be changed from medium to high – only after all four men had come forward with allegations.
The report said the police staff investigator found there had been an ‘online support group of ex-partners/potential victims of’ Ashley set up.
Ashley was found guilty of four rapes, two attempted rapes and four charges of administering a substance with intent to stupefy at Portsmouth Crown Court. He denied all 10 charges during a trial.
A full risk assessment of Ashley was not carried out by his offender management team after a first allegation of rape was made in June 2016 over fears it would ‘alert him to a possible police investigation’, the report said.
But is said information was shared between investigators and offender management, and Ashley was being treated as if he was high risk from late October 2016, the report added. He had been first arrested in September.
Details of Ashley’s arrests and the allegations he drugged men were not initially added to a computer system used by the offender management team, the report said.
The staff investigator was investigated over performance for not recording decisions about Ashley’s level of risk between June and December, for a comment about the ‘online support group’, for not updating computer records, and not recording the increase in Ashley’s risk in November.
The detective sergeant was investigated for not updating the computer records within three days of Ashley’s arrests in September and December.
The IOPC recommendations were: any intelligence or notification about an offender should be passed on to the offender manager with records updated, any offender’s risk level should be reviewed within 10 days of their arrest, a note should be made if there is no change to the risk level, any sexual harm prevention orders – used to control offenders – should be reviewed within 10 days after an arrest, and the offender manager has responsibility for updating a computer system.
A Hampshire police spokeswoman said: ‘We accept the recommendations in the report.’
A formal response to the IOPC recommendations said the force had come up with a ‘seven-point plan’ used if a category one offender is suspected of further crimes or arrested.