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Kent Police sorry for handling of Chatham couple's two year homophobic abuse ordeal

Police have admitted the way they dealt with a gay couple's abuse ordeal fell "below the required standard".

They say officers involved were given "words of advice and learning" after the two women officially complained.

Jess (left) and Lisa suffered two years of problems
Jess (left) and Lisa suffered two years of problems

Jessica and Lisa, who are former police officers themselves, say they endured two years of misery at the hands of a neighbour, who has now been ordered not to have any contact with them.

They have spoken of their long-running ordeal, which they say included threats to strangle, having tyres slashed, a rock being lobbed through a window, waste food emptied into their garden and vehicles consistently blocking their drive.

They say they also suffered a torrent of homophobic abuse and intimidating behaviour from the middle-aged family man living near their Chatham home.

At one point they felt so intimidated they fled to another address for months, only returning to collect belongings and check on the property.

The couple, who were working for the Metropolitan Police when the offences took place, said they were "shocked" at the way Kent Police dealt with their ordeal.

Poster the women put in their car to highlight the issue
Poster the women put in their car to highlight the issue

Trouble first flared when Jessica, 31, moved into the house in July 2018 and asked the neighbour to move a vehicle as she was expecting a removal van.

The ex-detective, who now works as a senior lecturer, says she was told they had always used her land to park and refused to remove it.

In desperation, she contacted Medway Council's enforcement department which slapped the neighbour with a fine, but this only inflamed the situation.

The relationship deteriorated rapidly and Jessica and 33-year-old partner Lisa, a safeguarding officer, installed expensive CCTV to catch the culprit red-handed.

Tyres to their campervan and a car were slashed and on another occasion they say the neighbour and "about nine members of his family" arrived on their doorstep hurling four-lettered obscenities and accusing them of being "pervs".

Medway Police Station
Medway Police Station

The couple say things came to a head in February when he threatened to "strangle" America-raised Jessica and break down her door.

When she laid on "trick or treats" for Halloween, several members of the family arrived on the doorstep saying children should not approach them because they were "pervs".

Jessica, who compiled a spread sheet of about 40 incidents – 17 of which were reported to the police, said: "They were basically calling me a sex offender."

She and Lisa say the shock they felt by the lack of action by Kent Police was a "major factor" in their decision to leave the profession about three months ago.

Jessica added on many occasions police did not attend to take statements and they were not "taken seriously".

"Following review of both complaints, they were upheld and it was found the service provided fell below the required standard..."

As the situation worsened, Lisa was forced to move her beloved campervan to her parents' home and both women say it became like "living in a fortress" as they stepped up security.

They felt anxious to go outside and constantly carried phones with them to capture any threats or harrassment on camera.

She added: "We never retaliated, that would have been professional suicide.

"What I find worrying is that we were serving police officers and not taken seriously.

"What if you are vulnerable, can't speak English or have other issues?

"The message from us is to stand up for yourself and your rights."

Medway Magistrates' Court
Medway Magistrates' Court

Kent Police spokesman Natalie Hardy said: "We received two complaints from a person involved in a neighbour dispute. The first was received in February 2020 and questioned the quality of parts of the investigation.

"The second complaint concerned the disclosure of personal information, namely the complainant’s profession, which had been shared with the defence team as part of the court proceedings.

"Following review of both complaints, they were upheld and it was found the service provided fell below the required standard.

"The victim was updated and officers were given words of advice and learning."

A 48-year-old Chatham man appeared before Medway magistrates on June 3 charged with offences under the Public Order Act.

He received a 12-month community order, including a curfew, and a six-month restraining order not to go to the women's address. He was also ordered to pay £200 court costs.

To get the latest updates in ongoing cases, police appeals and criminals put behind bars, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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