Gaia Pope’s family have demanded a review of the wider investigation into the accusation the 19-year-old was raped.

Miss Pope-Sutherland, 19, ran away from home having been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after reporting that she had been drugged and sexually attacked by a man when she was 16.

At the time of her disappearance from Swanage in 2017 she was anxious about his imminent release from prison for unconnected sexual offences.

Miss Pope-Sutherland reported she had been raped after suffering a mental health crisis triggered by the experience.

Now, her family have claimed police “lied” after her death and may have dismissed evidence which helped her prosecute her alleged rapist.

What are the family calling for?

The family are calling for a “Gaia Principle” whereby officers must check if suspected sex offenders face multiple similar allegations or face disciplinary proceedings.

Her cousin, Marienna Pope-Weidemann, speaking at Doughty Street Chambers in London on Wednesday, said police were aware of numerous allegations against the man accused of grooming her as far back as 2014.

But the cases were treated in isolation and likely presented to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as instances of “he-said, she-said”, according to the cousin.

The family are also calling for an independent investigation of the police probe into the alleged rapist “and his associates”.

Bournemouth Echo: Gaia Pope, 19, captured on CCTV shortly before she went missing in Swanage

What did the inquest say?

An inquest into Miss Pope-Sutherland’s death found she had died of hypothermia within 18 hours of going missing from her home in Swanage on November 7, 2017.

Her body was found 11 days later in undergrowth between Dancing Ledge and Anvil Point on the Dorset coast – an area her family had urged police to search as it was a favourite spot of her late grandfather.

Dorset Police apologised for mistakes made in its response to her disappearance, but a senior coroner directed the jury not to consider the force’s failings as contributory factors in Miss Pope-Sutherland’s death.

The inquest also heard a police search co-ordinator retrospectively altered search records relating to the disappearance.

Read more: Gaia Pope inquest: Dorset Police apologises for failings

What is the Justice for Gaia campaign?

Miss Pope-Sutherland’s family are demanding changes to policing and health and social care services as part of their Justice For Gaia campaign.

These include improved funding for mental health services and the creation of a specialist unit dedicated to investigating rape and sexual offences within all police forces.

It includes a manifesto for change across mental health and social support in Dorset and nationwide.

The family is encouraging supporters to sign a petition demanding better investment and training in the handling of sexual abuse allegations by health services and the police.

Bournemouth Echo: Police perform a fingertip search in the open space above the coast near to Swanage in Dorset by officers  investigating the disappearance of Gaia Pope. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 17, 2017. The 19 year old had not been seen sin

What do the IOPC have to do with this?

The family say the IOPC has “failed” to investigate the probe into man accused of raping Gaia.

However, the police watchdog has said it will consider any new complaints referred to it over the probe into Gaia Pope-Sutherland’s alleged rapist after her family claimed officers dismissed evidence against him.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) previously assessed Dorset Police’s decision to take no further action over the 19-year-old’s reported assault and found it was “appropriate.”

In response to the renewed appeal, the watchdog said it had not yet received any direct approach from Ms Pope-Sutherland’s family but would look into any new complaints.

Read more: Gaia Pope inquest: Everything we've learnt over last 12 weeks

An IOPC spokesperson said: “We have had no direct approach from Gaia Pope’s family concerning any wider review. We fully investigated the family’s recorded complaints about the rape investigation, made in 2018.

“Any new complaint referred to us would be considered and assessed as to what further action may be required by the IOPC.”

They also said: “We investigated complaints from Gaia Pope’s family about how Dorset Police dealt with an allegation of rape, made in December 2015. At the start of our investigation in 2018 we provided Gaia’s family with our terms of reference and no issues or concerns were raised with the investigation’s scope then, or at any subsequent meeting. We were never asked to consider undertaking a wider review into Dorset Police’s handling of the suspect for other offences.

“Following the end of our investigation in 2019 we shared our detailed investigation report and our decisions with Gaia’s family as well as Dorset Police and the Coroner.

“During our investigation, we carefully examined how the force investigated the rape allegation and what lines of enquiry were explored. We obtained accounts from officers involved, a CPS prosecutor, and Gaia’s family. We reviewed records and material and considered relevant force and national policies and procedures. We also spoke to three potential witnesses not approached by the original police investigation.

Read more: Gaia Pope: Dorset Police not introducing specialist rape unit

“While we found the police investigation could have been more thorough, any failings by individual officers did not amount to breaches of the professional standards of behaviour. We found performance issues for four officers for some inadequacies, including not contacting all witnesses, not submitting intelligence reports and insufficient record-keeping.

“We established that Dorset Police did informally speak to the CPS about the rape investigation, but there was insufficient evidence to merit a formal referral to them. In our view, the accounts we obtained from additional witnesses would not have changed the police decision not to refer the matter to the CPS. “All of the officers provided detailed, reasoned assessments of the case and reached conclusions that were carefully rationalised and supported by evidence obtained in the course of their investigation. On that basis, we were satisfied that the police ‘no further action’ decision was appropriate on the evidence available.

“However, we did find that Dorset Police failed to advise Gaia’s family of the Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) following their decision not to refer to the CPS. We established that the closing code used to finalise the investigation on police systems did not tally with search terms used by the Victims’ Bureau to identify cases suitable for VRR. Consequently, the Bureau did not write to the family to inform them of their right to request a review of the decision to take no further action in respect of the rape report. We recommended that the force ensures its officers know the search terms used by the Bureau (and adopts the same) in order that suitable VRR cases can be identified. This recommendation was accepted by the force and will go some way to reducing the risk of the same happening to other victims in such circumstances in the future.”

What have Dorset Police said?

They have responded in a lengthy statement.

Deputy Chief Constable Sam de Reya, of Dorset Police, said: “The thoughts and sympathies of everyone at Dorset Police remain with the family and friends of Gaia Pope following her tragic death.

“The investigation into Gaia’s death was independently reviewed by the IOPC and was the subject of a lengthy inquest, in which evidence was heard from a range of public agencies. As a force, we have been consistently open and transparent and shared all requested material throughout the independent investigations and inquest.

“The record of inquest reflects that there were failings on the part of Dorset Police in our response to Gaia’s disappearance, but that those failings did not cause or contribute to her death.

“We recognise that as a force our immediate response to this missing person enquiry should have been better managed, including our interaction with Gaia and her family, how we identified Gaia’s vulnerabilities, the missing risk she was graded at, how we oversaw coordination of searches and the running of an effective command structure.

"We have delivered significant change over the last four years through an improvement programme and acted swiftly to the learning and feedback.

Read more: Gaia Pope inquest: Dorset Police officer admits altering records

“During the course of the inquest, it was established that a search log had been retrospectively amended to create a fuller picture of all the areas where officers searched for Gaia after she was reported missing. The retrospective amendment was made to try and make the vast amount of information available easier to understand.

Bournemouth Echo: Gaia Pope-Sutherland's cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann, speaks during a press conference at Doughty Street Chambers in LondonGaia Pope-Sutherland's cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann, speaks during a press conference at Doughty Street Chambers in London (Image: PA)

“All information available in relation to this was referred to the IOPC and it was passed back to the Force for review. The Professional Standards Department reviewed the matter and identified no misconduct. Work has already been carried out in force to ensure search logs cannot be retrospectively amended or updated with a new process introduced. Updated guidance on this matter has also been given to those individuals completing search logs.

“Since Gaia’s death we have worked hard to ensure we have the right framework in place so we can respond promptly and effectively when someone is reported missing. Following an independent investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct we have delivered many changes to our ways of working and introduced dedicated missing people teams to ensure our response meets national best practice and provides the right service for our communities.

“We have amended and updated our missing persons and concern for welfare policies, procedures and practices, and upgraded our crime recording system so pertinent information can be easily accessed.

Bournemouth Echo: Gaia Pope-Sutherland's cousin Marienna Pope-WeidemannGaia Pope-Sutherland's cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann (Image: PA)

“We have also revised our deployment policy, as well as our joint operation policies and procedures with outside agencies who also help to search for missing people.

“We are absolutely committed to supporting victims of sexual offences and we are continuing to work with colleagues in the Crown Prosecution Service to improve the services offered to those who report rape and other serious sexual offences.

“Dorset Police volunteered to take part in Operation Soteria, which was launched as a response to the Government End-to-End Rape Review. The Force was successfully selected and is one of 14 police services nationally to take part in the programme that aims to improve outcomes for victims of sexual offences.

“The Force has trained Rape and Serious Sexual Offence (RASSO) officers within their investigation teams. In addition, we have increased the number of Sexual Offence Liaison Officers (SOLOS) who are trained specialists in interviewing and supporting victims.

Read more: Inspector thought Gaia Pope 'came to harm from third person'

“Dorset Police has a dedicated RASSO (Rape and Serious Sexual Offences) project lead focused on improving standards both internally and with partner agencies. The RASSO lead works with all investigators and, in particular, specialist investigators. We have invested in increasing our Sexual Offence Liaison Officers as part of a programme of improvements in this area and work as part of the Wessex region forces and Crown Prosecution Service to constantly review and progress our approach, which is delivered through the RASSO project lead and champions.

“We take reports of rape offences extremely seriously and will do all we can to ensure offences are thoroughly investigated and offenders are brought to justice. We want victims to know that we are here for you.

“We would strongly encourage anyone who has been the victim of a sexual offence to come forward and report it to the Force.”