It was over ten years later that my older sister Sarah and I found out what had happened to Alison when she was in the care of the NHS in Cumbria. Our Mum had known but had kept quiet, she is from a different generation and was ashamed. She is not proud of this but we don’t blame her for not speaking out. We know the real shame lies with the person who took advantage of Alison and with the people who sat back and let it happen.
In 2001 we approached North Cumbria NHS and Cumbria Police to tell them what had happened and get justice for Alison. We made the mistake of thinking they would be interested. Cumbria Police did not seem concerned and asked why it mattered as it happened over ten years ago. Then the NHS conveniently lost Alison’s Medical Records, despite telling me a week earlier that they had them. North Cumbria NHS were useless, they were “unable” to locate any of Alison’s records so it became my job to track them down. I finally located copies of a pregnancy termination certificate and some consultants notes from a GP who had been treating Alison near my Mum’s home in Doncaster. When I presented these to the NHS in Cumbria, they were amazed and asked me how I had managed to locate them?! This took almost nine months and in that time, despite knowing the name of the individual in question, managers at the NHS had not even approached him to discuss the serious accusation we had made.
The medical records we obtained clearly showed Alison had a pregnancy termination when she was a Mental Health patient of the NHS in Carlisle. Worryingly, they showed that details of the abortion were not shared with her Psychiatrist. What she had been put through was withheld from people who could have helped her, but the illegal sex, the pregnancy and resulting termination were brushed under the carpet.
In February 2002, Cumbria Police told us the CPS had dismissed our case saying there was not enough evidence, even though they had a copy of a termination certificate and medical records which showed the offence had occurred and then been covered up. We were angry and confused and wrote to them to ask why the case had been dropped, but they just kept trotting out the same line … what we didn’t know at the time was that Cumbria Police had “lost” the evidence we had given them and the Executives at the NHS had not shared the information they had with Cumbria Police. What has only recently become clear is that the two institutions were very closely linked and they did not want the case to move forward.