A PETITION to change police procedure rules has seen a boost in numbers after receiving the backing of women’s charities and even a pop star.
Karen Edwards, the mum of murdered Becky Godden-Edwards, has been campaigning to change the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) since the case against her daughter’s suspected killer Chris Halliwell was dropped due to a police blunder.
A report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the conduct of the police officer who led the investigation, Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, found he has a case to answer for gross misconduct in relation to several breaches of PACE while interviewing Halliwell without a solicitor present or without having read him his rights and also for breaching the force’s media policy.
It was Det Supt Fulcher’s decision to take the mini-cab driver to Barbury Castle for an interview and also not to caution the 47-year-old at any point during the interview that led to Halliwell’s confession being ruled inadmissible in evidence at a trial and the charge for Becky’s murder being withdrawn.
Now Karen, 52, hopes the plight of the detective who she credits with finding her daughter’s body will encourage the public to back her campaign for a change in the law, in particular police procedure during interviews.
An e-petition set up in November last year, with the help of Swindon South MP Robert Buckland, has attracted nearly 2,000 signatures, while a paper petition takes the total up to about 5,000.
Karen said: “With the case being in the news again I hope it will bring it back to people’s attention that it is time for a change. PACE is 30 years old and is out of date.”
While Karen has already met with prominent Government ministers, including policing minister Damian Green MP, she needs 10,000 signatures before the start of November to trigger a formal response from the Home Office, while 100,000 would lead to a debate in Parliament.
The petition received a boost last week when Karen got in touch with women’s charity One25, based in Bristol and spoke to a volunteer who helped Becky while she was battling drug addiction in 2002.
The charity pledged its support for the family and sent the petition link to its followers on Twitter, where it was picked up by pop sensation Ed Sheeran and re-tweeted to more than 7,500,000 people.
Karen said: “It’s fantastic the support we have received from people and the petition has been doing well. Ed Sheeran tweeted it and lots of women’s charities have backed the campaign.
“I spoke to Josie, who was a volunteer at One25 and used to sit and talk with Becky about her problems, and she said they would like to help.
“The petition runs out on November 6 and we really need as many names as we can. With the help of the people of Swindon we can surely make it to at least 10,000.
“This is people’s chance to vote – how do they feel about the police officer and how do they feel about the murder charge being dropped.”
To view and sign the Justice for Becky petition online visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/41204.