Surrey Police criticised over Frances Andrade case
By mattcollison | Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 12:09
SHADOW home secretary Yvette Cooper has criticised Surrey Police following the suicide of Guildford violinist Frances Andrade during a sexual abuse trial.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said Surrey Police's approach to the Frances Andrade case was "completely unacceptable".
Mrs Andrade, 48, is believed to have died from an overdose after being robustly challenged in a cross examination during the trial of Michael Brewer, who was later convicted of sexual abuse.
Concerns have now been raised that Surrey Police did not offer her enough support during the process of the trial and that other victims of sexual abuse could be dissuaded from coming forward.
Shadow Home secretary Yvette Cooper MP raised the concerns in the House of Commons on Monday when she quoted the Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley.
She said: "The Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner has said in the last couple of days, it is the responsibility of the police to present evidence to the court with the victim in a way which is untainted. That means they will not and should not refer a victim for counselling until after they have given their evidence.
"Does the Home Secretary agree with me that this approach by Surrey Police is completely unacceptable?"
Surrey PCC Kevin Hurley is reported to have since said he was taken out of context by Mrs Cooper's comment.
However, Theresa May has said she will look into the handling of the case of Frances Andrade to see what lessons can be learnt. Surrey Police has said it is reviewing its involvement.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday (February 11), Mrs May said: "When we see incidents such as has happened in this case of course I feel that others may be put off from coming forward rather than encouraged from coming forward."
Surrey Police has said it offered support services to Mrs Andrade, including a referral to Guildford's Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre whose services she used.Surrey Police said in a statement: "In light of recent reports, we would like to be clear that Surrey Police does offer victims of sexual abuse access to appropriate support.
"Following an initial review of this case, we can confirm support services were made available to Frances Andrade including a referral in January 2012 to the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC) based in Guildford who provide long term therapeutic counselling and whose services Mrs Andrade used last year.
"It is widely recognised that any support received can be disclosed in court and victims are made aware of this, however this does not prohibit anyone from receiving counselling and it is not the practice of Surrey Police to refuse anyone access to counselling services.
"Surrey Police works closely with partner agencies such as RASASC and Victim Support and regularly refers people to these agencies for help and support.
"Our policy around supporting victims is in line with national practice and we are working with Greater Manchester Police around the concerns raised by the Andrade family."
For more information on RASASC visit: http://www.rasasc.org/