Police watchdog launches investigation into woman’s claim she was sexually assaulted in custody

UK

The police watchdog has launched an investigation into a woman’s claim she was drugged and sexually assaulted while in police custody.

Zayna Iman told Sky News the incident took place while she was held by officers from Greater Manchester Police.

CCTV footage shows the 38-year-old being carried into a police cell unconscious and with her hands cuffed behind her back.

She is forced face-down onto a thin mattress before police officers take off her jeans, cut off her knickers, pull a pair of oversized custody shorts over her legs and then remove her top and bra before leaving her alone and topless.

“Instead of providing an unconscious female with medical attention they thought: ‘I know let’s take her clothes off instead and leave her there’,” Ms Iman said. “It’s just something that the police do for their own perverse kicks.”

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CCTV footage of Ms Iman in police cell

Police broke into Ms Iman’s home in the early hours of 5 February 2021 and arrested her after she knocked the glasses off a female officer’s face. They were following up on a welfare callout over a woman high on cocaine.

Over the next 40 hours or so, Ms Iman – who has waived her right to anonymity – would be taken to and held at a police station. From that period, there are three hours of missing footage which GMP have so far failed to supply.

More on Greater Manchester

Zayna’s allegation is supported by her medical records which show evidence of sexual injuries.

She has also shared her concerns with former GMP chief superintendent Martin Harding, who has seen the available footage and the glaring inconsistencies with the custody log, and said her claims are credible.

“I believe she was raped. I believe she was raped by an officer and I believe the organisation is covering it up,” he said.

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Police custody log

Watchdog investigating ‘very serious allegations’

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said they had received two referrals from Greater Manchester Police on Wednesday 26 July 2023 linked to complaints made by the woman regarding her detention by officers at Pendleton Police Station in February 2021.

They said one was a “re-referral of matters we originally received” back in May 2022, while another “contained new allegations regarding the woman’s treatment in custody that had not previously been brought to our attention”.

IOPC regional director Catherine Bates said: “These very serious allegations will have undoubtedly unsettled the local community and the wider public. Their severity raises understandable concern and has the potential to undermine confidence in policing.

“In light of the new information we recently received and the significant media attention generated, as well as a request from GMP, we have taken the decision that an independent investigation is required into the allegations.”

Investigation will look at ‘nature of interaction’ woman had with police in custody

Ms Bates said the IOPC was “aware of footage of the woman’s detention” and said the investigation “will be thorough and independent of the police”.

She said the investigation “will look at the nature of the interaction the woman had with police while in custody and allow us to understand what happened on the night in question.”

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