A mom says she was pressured to strip bare in a police cell and threatened by officers to drop complaints she had made towards them.
Dannika Stewart says her complaints towards Greater Manchester Police (GMP) led to her being detained and humiliated in a cell, and was instructed “You need to drop all your complaints against the police”.
She instructed Sky News: “I feel they’ll just be after me now. They will always be after me. I’m scared of what they will do next.”
Former GMP detective Maggie Oliver says she believes Dannika is amongst a number of complainants “targeted” for “standing up to the police”.
Dannika is a topic of an inquiry by Dame Vera Baird, triggered final yr after an investigation by Sky News into police strip searches and the therapy of ladies in custody.
The overview is because of be printed quickly and can criticise the police complaints system, Sky News understands.
Dannika agreed to inform Sky News her story forward of the Baird overview’s publication.
In March 2022, she reported an alleged sexual crime dedicated towards a youngster. She felt it wasn’t being correctly investigated so she complained to the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
In one criticism she instructed them she had a recording on her telephone of a police officer admitting failures.
Three months later she was instructed police wished to talk to her, so she went to Pendleton police station in Greater Manchester. Here she was arrested.
Apparently, the person she’d accused of a intercourse crime had accused her of blackmail. Inside a police cell she says she was instructed to strip bare, and if she did not it might be executed to her.
She believes the police had been seeking to get better her recording of the officer from the SIM on her telephone.
She had handed the telephone in with out its SIM after her arrest.
‘They wanted to point out me who was boss’
She stated: “So I took my tracksuit bottoms off, which I knew they were going to take away from me anyway. I took my leggings off and then took my knickers off and I’m just sat there naked.”
She stated she was left bare whereas officers walked out and in of the cell with one feminine officer gazing her breasts.
“It’s all about power,” she stated. “Because when I left the police station that day the sergeant on the desk said, ‘you need to drop all your complaints against the police’.”
She added: “They needed to show me who was boss. They needed to control what I was doing.”
Ms Oliver, who resigned from GMP over a decade in the past after blowing the whistle on police failures, is supporting Dannika by means of the Maggie Oliver Foundation.
She instructed Sky News: “Dannika became a target of that police force. She was seen as a threat to Greater Manchester Police.
“And what they did, they determined they had been going to lock her up. I imagine that was so they might seize a telephone that she had disclosed to the IOPC she had proof on of her mistreatment.”
She added: “Just like within the Post Office, it’s about concealing what’s going on. It is making an attempt to guard the repute of an organisation that may be a very highly effective public physique.”
In October 2022, Dannika filed one other criticism to the IOPC, this time in regards to the strip search.
Like her earlier complaints, this was handed on to an inside police investigation staff inside GMP’s skilled requirements division.
Their report said: “A strip search was not conducted nor requested. I understand you removed the phone upon request in custody and then removed your outer clothing so you could change into alternative clothing that GMP supplied due to there being a cord in your bottoms.”
Dannika says CCTV would present she did not become GMP clothes and audio from the custody suite would seize her being instructed to strip bare for a search.
However, regardless of exercising her proper to ask for the footage from the custody suite, the police didn’t present it.
After her criticism was dismissed, she determined to strategy the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to overview how the criticism had been dealt with.
Deputy mayor for safer and stronger communities, Kate Green, carried out the overview and located that the investigating officer “did not review the CCTV footage from Ms Stewart’s time in custody or provide her with an explanation as to why he did not review the CCTV footage or the audio recordings”.
The investigator appeared to have inquired with officers what occurred and accepted their model of occasions, resulting in Ms Green’s conclusion that Dannika’s criticism ought to be upheld.
After one other request for the CCTV, Dannika was instructed that the footage had been corrupted.
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Over this time Dannika was saved on bail for 13 months over the blackmail allegations, remaining underneath the specter of prosecution and jail.
She nervous about shedding her son, and found officers had complained about her to social providers saying she was being “obstructive” to the preliminary investigation that she had instigated by reporting the alleged intercourse crime.
The IOPC reviewed data contained in kids’s providers documentation and confirmed that the phrase “obstructive” was used on a toddler and household evaluation and in a toddler safety plan.
A observe throughout the plan reads “The police have described Dannika as obstructive”.
The IOPC discovered no rationalization for this and has just lately ordered an investigation into this, together with eight different complaints made by Dannika, about the best way her allegations had been handled by the police.
‘We want a very impartial complaints system’
Ms Oliver added: “Many of the victims that I speak to fear that they will lose their child or children and I know that that is a tool that is used. And we need to make sure we have a complaints system that is truly independent.”
Dannika says the issue is that complaints by means of the impartial watchdog web site, firstly go on to the skilled requirements groups throughout the native pressure.
She instructed Sky News: “If there was a robust and fit-for purpose complaints system, the police wouldn’t have known about the complaints I was placing.
“With the proof I had, the complaints had been of such a severe nature that ought to have been investigated by an impartial physique.”
As an example of this, one of her initial complaints about the failed investigation went directly to the officer she was complaining about, who then called her up about the complaint.
Dannika also complained about this in an email to GMP, saying, “How can she examine her personal conduct. I do not perceive. Is this allowed?”
In response GMP said the complaint “was initially to be service recovered and that is normally executed within the format that the officer contacts the complainant to try to focus on the criticism and resolve, nevertheless on this case this hasn’t labored and your criticism is now underneath overview by the district”.
Dannika says she was never contacted by “the district.”
‘Where we aren’t profitable, we admit our failings’
A GMP spokesperson instructed Sky News: “Greater Manchester Police activity is driven by just three things: to fight, prevent and reduce crime, keep people safe and care for victims. Where we are not successful, we admit our failings and we work transparently within governance and regulatory arrangements to redress what has gone wrong.
“Miss Stewart’s complaints proceed to be reviewed by Dame Vera Baird and the Professional Standards Directorate. Until these evaluations have concluded and reported their findings to Miss Stewart, it would not be proper for the pressure to remark publicly.
“Miss Stewart has been provided with information relating to some of the allegations within her complaints but if she would like additional updates on the progression of others then she is welcome to contact the Professional Standards Directorate.”
The IOPC issued a press release to Sky News saying: “The vast majority of complaints are dealt with by forces and are only referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct if they meet criteria set out in law.
“The new complaints system has simplified the method to make a criticism, making it extra accessible to members of the general public who’re dissatisfied with the service they obtain from a police pressure.
“In many cases, if a complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome, they will have the right to have the force’s handling of the matter reviewed. In the most serious cases, this will be done with by the IOPC and ensures independent oversight of the system.”
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The blackmail costs towards Dannika had been just lately dropped. She says she has by no means been supplied with proof of what precisely the blackmail costs entailed.
Some components of the body-worn digital camera throughout her arrest, and her police interview have been given to Dame Vera as a part of her inquiry into the therapy of ladies in custody, however not the CCTV from the custody suite.
Dame Vera is because of report throughout the subsequent two months.