In 2015 depression came calling. I burst into tears when I saw or heard anything about injustice at Hillsborough or the crimes of Saville, these stirred up emotions and brought past hurts back to life. I unwittingly found myself working in the communications department of an NHS Trust, it was a PR factory and I was increasingly distressed by what I saw happening around me. The NHS prioritised its reputation over the needs of patients and families. I saw first-hand how when things went wrong they slipped into self-defence, shielding themselves without thought for those they hurt or harmed. This was an impossible climate to work in and after a mini meltdown I went to see a Psychologist who helped me understand my distress; unsurprisingly it was the confusion I felt about Alison. After all these years I could not understand how little she had meant to a health system that was supposed to look after her. How could she be treated so wrongly without anyone being accountable? Getting behind the scenes in the NHS awoke me to the possibility that what happened to Alison was the product of a broken culture, not a one-off incident. The truth was hidden to protect reputations. During a session with my Psychologist, I realised I had to get to the bottom of what happened to Alison.
In Autumn 2015, I requested notes from the 2001 investigation by Cumbria Police. When I received them I realised all the medical records and documents were missing from the file. It dawned on me why the original investigation had failed, so I asked Cumbria Police to come and see me at the earliest opportunity.
In Autumn 2015 a Senior Officer from Cumbria Police sat in my home and assured me the investigation in 2001 was of a good standard. He said there was nothing to be gained by reopening it and personally vouched for his colleagues who had undertaken that investigation. He was lying. The 2001 investigation was a fiasco. In 2016 it was described by Police Professional Standards as poor and flawed. Cumbria Police gave the CPS an incomplete file, officers failed to interview key witnesses and didn’t even create a basic investigation plan. Despite attempts to stop the new investigation, Cumbria Police were forced to reopen the case in Autumn 2016 after we presented them with the evidence they “mislaid” years earlier. Now we felt there was finally a chance to get justice for Alison. Once again we would be disappointed.