Senior police officer to lead new probe into Gosport War Memorial 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, 10:07 pm
Updated Friday, 27th July 2018, 10:14 pm
Bridget Reeves at Portsmouth Cathedral after the Gosport War Memorial Hospital report was revealed

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Downing, head of serious crime for Kent and Essex Police, will lead the review.

Families have said there is enough evidence in the report itself for the Crown Prosecution Service to take the case on and start criminal proceedings.

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.

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

Hampshire Constabulary's Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney said: '˜Following the publication of the report, I met relevant national policing leaders to consider how to take this forward with independence from Hampshire.

'˜The scale and importance of the findings of the panel meant 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 be for ACC Downing to determine the terms of reference and define the scope of what happens next.

'˜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.

Bridget Reeves, who's grandmother Elsie Devine was among the patients who died at Gosport War Memorial Hospital, on Bury Road, said: '˜We always knew another police force would be taking this on so this isn't major news to us.

'˜Having had a month to register the report, us families think there is enough evidence for it to handed back to the CPS without further police investigation.'

Bridget and her mum Ann have set up a petition to the Attorney General calling for a criminal prosecution. So far, 7,000 people have signed it.

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

A statement from Kent & Essex Police said: '˜ACC Downing will be meeting various parties within the Gosport War Memorial Hospital's Independent panel report to discuss a review on behalf of Hampshire police.'

Michael Lane, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire said: '˜It is my strong belief that work to examine any new evidence and information gathered by the panel should have independent oversight.'