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Claim of sexual assault in police custody will be independently reviewed, says Greater Manchester mayor


The Mayor of Manchester has announced he is asking a barrister to look into claims women were assaulted while they were in custody.

Andy Burnham said Dame Vera Baird KC, a former victims commissioner, would be looking into the allegations which Sky News has revealed.

Mr Burnham said: “We will be asking her to look at the care of the individuals in these cases and to consider what wider issues that might raise for custody in Greater Manchester.

“So we will be seeking that independent assurance from Dame Vera Baird as well in response to what’s been raised because obviously there are three cases here that present very real concerns.”

He added: “I’m pleased that she’s accepted our invitation to enter discussions about how she can provide an assurance here for us or raise issues that need to be addressed.

“I believe this is the right response, this level, to give that reassurance to the wider public, and particularly women in Greater Manchester.”

His comments come in response to revelations made by a Sky News investigation which found three women who said they were mistreated in custody.

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Are women safe in custody?

‘Stripped and left topless in a cell, I was drugged and sexually assaulted by Greater Manchester Police’

Zayna Iman, 38, who has waived her right to anonymity, alleges she was drugged and sexually assaulted while being held in custody by Greater Manchester Police (GMP).

“Instead of providing an unconscious female with medical attention they thought, ‘I know let’s take her clothes off instead and leave her there’,” Ms Iman said.

“It’s just something that the police do for their own perverse kicks.”

Zayna Iman is 'strip searched'
Zayna Iman is ‘strip searched’

Two other women also claimed to have been mistreated.

Kirsty (not her real name) believes officers were heavy-handed with her because she made complaints against the force for failing to investigate allegations of sexual abuse against her sister.

Accused of blackmail by the alleged abuser, Kirsty says she was strip searched and believes it was all about “power”.

“It was police on a power trip… to shut me up, make me scared, to show we’re boss, not you,” she said. Police say her clothes were removed for welfare reasons.

Maria (also not her real name) claims she was strip-searched when she was arrested for malicious communications – accused of swearing at police during a call – after her partner had been held on suspicion of domestic violence against her and she went to the station to pick up her keys.

GMP say they thought she may have been concealing a vape.

Read more:
Minister to raise claim woman was sexually assaulted by police with watchdog

Man wrongly jailed for 17 years hits out at ‘lying police’

A spokesperson for GMP said: “GMP is aware that these three individuals are unhappy with the service they received when they were arrested and detained – their complaints have or are being investigated by the force.

“Though one investigation is ongoing, there is currently no evidence to suggest any GMP employees have misconducted themselves or committed a criminal offence.

“Under the definition within the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, two of these individuals were not strip searched. Due to concerns for their welfare, their clothing was removed and replaced with anti-rip garments – this process is subject to different legislation and guidance.”


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