Northamptonshire waste time on rape claims

Prosecutors in Northampton are preparing a case against an 18-year-old woman for wasting police time by making an abduction and rape report which led to a major operation to target a suspected gang of sexual predators.

Oct 6, 2005
By Tom Stainer
Police-recorded hate crimes in England and Wales. PA Graphic. Source Home Office. Figure for 2019/20 not included due to missing data.

Prosecutors in Northampton are preparing a case against an 18-year-old woman for wasting police time by making an abduction and rape report which led to a major operation to target a suspected gang of sexual predators.

The police force has also informally dealt with a 15-year-old girl for wasting police time over alleged abduction and rape claims in August.

The false claims sparked a massive police operation called Harbour to attempt to hunt down what was believed to be a predatory gang of rapists targeting women in the town.

It was feared the South African crime of “jack-rolling” where gangs of men block of streets with their cars and rape women caught between them, had been imported to the UK.

Detectives who put up warning posters and warned women not to go out alone at night said they had been hoaxed.

Following thorough investigations under Operation Harbour over the past eight weeks, officers are now satisfied that one of the alleged rapes and another alleged abduction did not occur in the way in which they were reported.

Officers are still investigating an incident of harassment and rape of a woman on August 8 – but do not believe these are connected.

Three other men arrested in August in connection with the Operation Harbour inquiry, have all been released without charge.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector John Jones, from Northamptonshire Police Homicide and Major Crime team, said: “We are now satisfied that two of the alleged incidents – a rape and an attempt abduction – that were reported to us, did not occur in the way in which they were first reported. Both allegations have been thoroughly and professionally investigated but we have found no evidence that they occurred in the way they were reported.

“We have already interviewed and taken informal action against a 15 year old girl for wasting police time, and we will now be asking the Crown Prosecution Service to consider grounds for action against an 18 year old woman for the same offence.

“We are now happy that we are not looking for a gang of predatory men, as previously thought. Our investigations have led us to believe that there was a group of men cruising around Northampton in vehicles in the early hours of August 1, but we have found no evidence that any offences were committed.”

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