Lancashire Police: ‘I was harassed by predatory PC after calling 999’

Frightened, desperate and fearing for her safety, Laura* dialled 999.

But the “knight in shining armour” who was despatched to come to her rescue was nothing like the dedicated, caring police officer he pretended to be.

For PC Ihsan Ali had been using his job to pursue sexual relationships with vulnerable women he met while on duty, including victims of domestic violence and stalking.

Ali was already the subject of an investigation by Lancashire Police’s anti-corruption department – the force had been aware of concerns about his behaviour for at least six months.

Laura now believes she was unwittingly used as a honeytrap by the force to catch Ali.

Lancashire Police has apologised for its former officer’s “abhorrent actions” and has agreed to pay Laura compensation.

Laura recalls she was “in an absolute state” when Ali arrived at her home in April 2017.

It was not the first time she had dialled 999. Her ex-partner was violent, controlling and abusive and had been charged, given a criminal record and banned from making contact with her.

“PC Ali was really polite,” Laura remembers of their first meeting. “Brilliant with my children, and he said ‘you know there’s nothing I hate more than a man that abuses women’.”

At the time, she says he felt like “a knight in shining armour”.

Over the next few days Ali would text Laura with updates about the case.

But, while messaging a friend, she accidentally put a kiss on the end of a reply to him.

Shortly after, she received a message from an unknown number – Ali’s personal mobile. It also included a kiss.

“Going through what I’ve been through, your number one job is to keep yourself safe,” she says. “And, more importantly, to keep your children safe.

“Who better to have on your team than a copper – you couldn’t get someone in a higher position to protect you?”

His messages quickly turned from friendly to flirtatious and then sexual in nature.

Within days, Laura and Ali were chatting on the phone and exchanging a lot of text messages.

Within a couple of weeks, he turned up at her home.

She recalls: “He’d parked off the road, and was acting very cagey, looking over his shoulder.

“As he got to the door, I was like ‘what are you doing?’, and he was like ‘Oh I know loads of officers that work around here and I don’t want them knowing my business’.

“I just thought ‘what have you got yourself into here?’ Nobody knows he’s here. And I felt really uncomfortable.”

About 15 minutes later there was a knock on the door and Laura started to panic.

Apart from the police, only her close family and friends knew where she lived and they always called ahead.

As she looked through the window, two police officers shouted her name.

“I looked at PC Ali and he looked like a rabbit caught in headlights and I’m thinking ‘You’re a copper, why are you so frightened, it’s me who should be frightened?'”

‘Extremely concerning’

Ali was arrested. Officers are banned from pursuing inappropriate relationships with people they meet on duty, especially vulnerable victims like Laura.

It turns out she was not the only victim; she was one of four women who gave evidence against him in court.

Ali pleaded not guilty to four counts of misconduct in a public office but he was convicted following a trial and jailed for two years.

Iain Gould, a solicitor who specialises in claims against police, said Ali’s actions even before had met Laura had been described as “disproportionate and extremely concerning”.

As a result, Lancashire Police had already “upped the ante in terms of the surveillance, and… obtained footage of him kissing and fondling a woman who he had come into contact with several months before,” Mr Gould said.

For a while Ali was working a desk job, but the force allowed him to go back to his role as a responding officer.

By the time Ali was assigned to help Laura, the anti-corruption unit was so concerned about his behaviour that his phone and email exchanges were being monitored daily.

“Not only was Laura a victim of abuse by their officer, [Lancashire Police] then used Laura as bait,” he said.

“Lancashire Constabulary clearly knew or suspected what was going on and yet allowed the situation to develop.”

The force has since apologised but said: “Ali was arrested as soon as there was sufficient evidence to do so.

“Ihsan Ali did come to the attention of our professional standards department in 2016 but this was for matters unrelated to abuse of position for a sexual purpose.

“It was during the course of that unrelated investigation that his contact with vulnerable women was uncovered.”

The whole experience has left Laura deeply worried.

“I don’t know what I would do if I was in a situation where I needed 999,” she explains. “I don’t know whether I would contact the police or not.”

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