Police apologise to family of Emma Caldwell and other victims of serial rapist

Officers admit that a 'lack of investigation until 2015 caused unnecessary distress to Emma's family'.

Police sorry for ‘letting down’ Emma Caldwell and other women attacked by Iain Packer PA/Alamy

Police Scotland has apologised to the family of murdered sex worker Emma Caldwell and other victims of her killer Iain Packer for having been “let down” by policing in 2005.

The apology comes after Emma’s family said Police Scotland failed their daughter and Packer’s rape victims due to a “toxic culture of misogyny and corruption”.

Aamer Anwar, representing Emma’s family, said outside the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday: “Instead of receiving justice and compassion, they were humiliated, dismissed and in some instances arrested, whilst the police gifted freedom to an evil predator to rape and rape again.”

The family have called for a public inquiry into failures by the authorities.

Emma’s murder became one of Scotland’s longest cold cases, with 19 years between when Packer was first interviewed by police and when he was convicted.

Packer was first spoken to by police the month after Emma’s body was found in an isolated area of woodland in South Lanarkshire in May 2005.

On Wednesday, he was found guilty of murdering Emma and sentenced to 36 years in prison.

Iain Packer.Contributed

Bex Smith, assistant chief constable for major crime and public protection, said: “Emma Caldwell, her family and many other victims, were let down by policing in 2005. For that we are sorry.  

“A significant number of women and girls who showed remarkable courage to speak up at that time also did not get the justice and support they needed and deserved from Strathclyde Police.”

“Police Scotland launched a re-investigation of the case in 2015 after instruction from the Lord Advocate.  

“It is clear that further investigations should have been carried out into Emma’s murder following the initial enquiry in 2005. 

“The lack of investigation until 2015 caused unnecessary distress to her family and all those women who had come forward to report sexual violence.”

Aamer Anwar & Company

Packer was convicted after a five-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow. He was found to have committed 12 indecent assaults, two sexual assaults, and 12 rapes against a total of 22 victims.

The 51-year-old was accused of murdering Emma, 27, who vanished in Glasgow on April 4, 2005. Her body was discovered in Limefield Woods, near Roberton, South Lanarkshire, the following month.

Emma vanished days after telling her mother Margaret about her hopes to kick a heroin addiction, which began following a family bereavement in her early 20s.

She came from a close-knit family and saw both parents twice a week and spoke to them daily, and was reported missing after she failed to respond to attempts by them to change a planned meeting.

Smith added: “It is the courage, resilience and determination shown by Emma’s family, in particular her parents William and Margaret, and all those who survived Iain Packer’s horrific catalogue of offending that got us to where we are today. 

“William is, sadly, no longer here to see this day, but I hope this verdict gives Margaret and all those affected by this case, the justice they deserve. 

“This was an extremely challenging re-investigation and without doubt the largest police enquiry of recent times in Scotland. 

“Over seven years, a full review of the original enquiry by Strathclyde Police in 2005 was completed. 

“More than 30,000 documents and statements were gathered and reviewed along with in excess of 23,000 productions. New forensic tests were carried out and new witnesses were identified and interviewed, leading to the convictions today. 

“Iain Packer was a calculating sexual predator who targeted women over many years. It is hard to comprehend how anyone could carry out such despicable, ruthless acts. 

“He took Emma’s life for his own gratification in the most appalling circumstances and cruelly left her body in remote woods hoping to cover his tracks.”

Packer denied all the charges – accusing all the women of lying – but admitted during evidence that he indecently assaulted Emma

He said he was “ashamed” of his actions towards her, and described his behaviour towards another sex workers as “disgusting”.

But he denied murdering Emma in his evidence, telling the court: “It wasn’t me who killed her. It wasn’t me. I didn’t do anything to her.”

Aamer Anwar and Margaret Caldwell.STV News

But in a statement read out on the court steps, Anwar said Emma’s mother Margaret wanted to “honour those women, some of whom were sex workers who spoke up not just for Emma, but for the many unknown victims of Packer”.

He said: “Margaret believes that officers sabotaged an investigation into Packer for a decade and have blood on their hands, for far too long they have remained in the shadows, but must now answer for their betrayal.”

Smith said Police Scotland had reflected and learnt from the initial investigation and subsequent re –investigation.

She said: “Significant changes have been made in recent years to improve our organisational culture and our response, particularly in respect of investigative structures, victim care and processes to these types of crimes.  

“Our Violence against Women and Girls Strategy demonstrates our absolute commitment to tackling the violence and abuse that disproportionately affects women and girls.

“What shone through to the enquiry team throughout the investigations into Emma’s life was her gentle personality, and I want to finish by saying that our thoughts remain with Emma, her family and all those affected by this terrible case.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with Emma’s family and friends and all the women affected by this horrific case.

“It is right that Police Scotland has recognised and apologised for the failures of the original investigation. It is clear that resulted in Emma’s family and the other victims waiting far too long for justice.

“The Scottish Government will carefully consider the merits of a wider review.

“The First Minister will meet with Emma’s family and hopes this can happen soon.”

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