Fiona Pilkington: Police slammed over disability hate crime

A woman who killed herself and her disabled daughter after years of disability-related harassment was failed by police because officers failed to recognise the family as vulnerable. That was the conclusion of a damning Independent Police Complaints Commission report into Leicestershire Police's handling of the case of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and daughter Francecca Hardwick (both pictured) in October 2007. PICTURE: PA

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A woman who killed herself and her disabled daughter after years of disability-related harassment was failed by police because officers failed to recognise the family as vulnerable.

That was the conclusion of a damning Independent Police Complaints Commission report into Leicestershire Police’s handling of the case of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her 18-year-old daughter, Francecca Hardwick, in October 2007.

Police officers failed to consider the treatment of the family by a gang as hate crime, and treated successive incidents in isolation, rather than as “ongoing” harassment and abuse. Four officers now face misconduct proceedings.

IPCC commissioner Amerdeep Somal said there was nothing more that Pilkington could have done to raise with police the issue of the family’s treatment.

“She informed the police and other agencies involved with her family of the ongoing problems,” said Somal.

“She did as she was told and she even kept a diary and records of the incidents. She was not alone in drawing her family’s plight to police attention. This was on top of raising her two children [Pilkington also had a disabled son], each of whom had their specific difficulties which presented further challenges for their mother. Her records portray a sense of resignation that nothing would be done and the youths would just carry on.”

Leicestershire chief constable Simon Cole said the force accepted the findings.

“We acknowledge that our actions failed to meet the family’s needs and, in retrospect, we would have done things differently, he said. “We again offer our unreserved apologies for whatever extent the force’s actions contributed to Fiona’s mindset at the time that she and Francecca died.

“The IPCC acknowledge in their report that we have learned many lessons from Fiona and Francecca’s tragic deaths and that we continue to make significant changes to the way we deal and respond to these types of incidents. The report concludes that even the officer who had the fullest picture of the family could in no way have foreseen the action taken by Fiona.”

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