A piece by Neil Johnston in today’s Times:
The father of a teenager brutally attacked by a gang of girls has claimed police did not investigate the assault properly until he threatened to “deal with it himself”.
Darren Axford, 44, has lodged an official complaint with police after his daughter was attacked on Sunday by a group of girls who pulled her to the ground by her hair, punched and kicked her at least 15 times. A boy filmed the assault in Normacot, Stoke-on-Trent, before posting the footage on Snapchat.
The 13-year-old victim was taken to Royal Stoke University Hospital with concussion and later discharged.
Mr Axford, a prison officer, said officers had still not taken a statement from the girl’s boyfriend after three days, despite him being with her at the time of the attack. He said that five hours after he reported the incident, the police had yet to take statement from his daughter so he called them again and threatened to “deal with it himself”. It took a further three hours for them to interview his daughter, he claims.
“I’m absolutely disgusted with the way the police have dealt with this. The attack has really impacted my daughter’s mental health. I’ve had to take a week off work to drive my daughter and her boyfriend to and from school because they are so frightened.”
Mr Axford said police referred her to a victim support service but that they were passed between various mental health and support services and his daughter has been offered no counselling since the attack.
He added: “The police need to take this seriously. The gang are clearly territorial and if they have done this to my daughter they could be doing it other children.
“The video is horrible and I want to make the community aware of what’s going on around this area for other parents to be mindful of where their children are going. The whole thing has been very stressful for the family and I feel like my daughter has been let down by the police.”
Describing the attack on his daughter, he said that she was walking home when they passed “a group of girls, a lad and a toddler” and that as they went through an alley they noticed two girls approach them.
“They shouted at my daughter: ‘What are you looking at?’. My daughter and her boyfriend carried on walking but the girls appeared at the side of my daughter and asked what she was looking at again.
“My daughter said she wasn’t looking at anything, to which one of the girls responded: ‘Well you are now’. The two girls grabbed her and landed about 15 punches.
“One of the girls then let her go and then grabbed her hair and pulled her backwards to the floor and then they punched and kicked her. Her boyfriend helped her off the floor and it was all filmed by the boy.
“At the end of the video the girl says: ‘Don’t come round these ends again’.”
A spokesperson for Staffordshire police said: “The circumstances reported at the time were assessed and appropriately graded to determine the required level of police response. Officers attended the girl’s home address on Sunday evening and an investigation is on-going.
“A referral has been made to the Victim Gateway, an external organisation who offer support to victims of crime and signpost to other agencies if required.”
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