Police watchdog report reveals officers in Cleveland, Middlesbrough, acted appropriately and would not have had any lawful power to detain a woman who was brought into the police station only to walk out where she was picked up and raped by a private hire driver.
The victim was brought to Middlesbrough police station by a taxi driver who could not get the woman's address from her when he picked her up, so he took her to the Bridge Street West station, as she appeared to him to be asleep or unconscious on the back seat.
Cleveland Police officers took the woman inside and front counter staff were told that she needed a taxi. The woman then left on her own accord.
She was then picked up by another driver, private hire licence holder, Naleem Nasleem - who was jailed for 10 years after being found guilty of two counts of rape following an eight day trial in June 2016.
The conduct of police on that evening was investigated by the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), after a complaint was made that the woman was allowed to leave the station.
Officers on the night found she was not "drunk or incapable" and police watchdog found "no indication that any person serving with the police may have behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary or criminal proceedings."
However it was ruled that police officer training must be stepped up.
(Cleveland Police station. Middlesbrough HQ)
A statement reported in the Teesside Live said:
"The woman went into the police station, spoke briefly to a member of front counter staff and then walked away from the police station towards Middlesbrough town centre," an IOPC statement said.
"The two officers drove past her as she walked to the taxi rank.
"Later that night, the woman was raped by another taxi driver, who was later convicted of the offence."
The statement continued: "The officers did not consider the woman to be vulnerable.
"Even if officers had considered the woman to be vulnerable, they still would not have had any lawful power to detain her, or any statutory duty to obtain medical attention for her."
It concluded: "The investigation found no indication that any person serving with the police may have behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary or criminal proceedings."
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said the force agreed with the IOPC's findings and has stepped up training.
"Our detectives carried out an in-depth investigation in order to ensure that Naleem Nasleem was put behind bars for 10 years," the force said.
"The woman had previously been brought to the front desk of the police station, where officers spoke to her and she left of her own accord.
"The woman then walked into the town and got into a licensed taxi.
"Neither the victim nor officers could have envisaged that a taxi driver would rape her, or that she would be raped.
"It is the fault of rapists that these crimes happen, and we will continue to provide support to victims to help them move on with their lives and bring those responsible to justice.
"There were no matters of conduct in relation to police officers or staff, however, the force recognised that training in vulnerability and risk needed to be rolled out more widely across the force and as a result ‘vulnerability and night time economy training’ was incorporated into the wider overall learning and development programme for officers and staff.
"This training helps police provide the best possible service to our communities and keep people safe."
Nasleem worked for private hire firm Boro Cars, who told how they worked with police to convict him. They stressed that the victim had been picked up illegally in the street by Nasleem and said she had not booked the vehicle through its operators.