Police apologise to lone female jogger for failing to respond to reported sex crime on canal towpath

A police force has apologised to a lone female jogger for failing to respond when she reported a sex crime on a canal towpath. April-Joy Serrant called 999 to report a half-naked man running towards her masturbating as she jogged the Leeds-Liverpool Canal on Friday afternoon. But shortly afterwards police rang her back to say that no officers were available to check the area in Shipley, West Yorks, adding that she could wait and make a phone statement on Sunday.

Miss Serrant posted a video message online saying she was “amazed” at the lack of police urgency following the death of Sarah Everard, which sparked protests about women’s safety on UK streets.  In the video, she said: “I am amazed. I cannot believe and I am saddened that we have got no police officers available, when someone says, on the Friday afternoon, there is a man masturbating in front of a woman, running, alone on a lonely stretch of canal.

“I want to be able to run safely in this beautiful free country and know that should something awful like that happen there is a whole police force, across this country, who takes it as seriously as all of us women do.” After the video was posted on Friday, Bradford district commander chief superintendent Daniel Greenwood publicly apologised.  An officer also visited Ms Serrant’s home to apologise in person. 

Chief superintendent Greenwood said: “It wasn’t dealt with as it should have been and we will review what happened… I am a father and a husband. I understand the genuine safety concerns that women have and wholeheartedly agree they should feel safe to walk anywhere in West Yorkshire.” 

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Ms Serrant said she accepted the apology but bemoaned the delays. She said: “I genuinely accept and appreciate their apology. But it’s sad that it took a video that went viral.

If I hadn’t posted, the reality is I would be getting a call tomorrow morning, two and a half days after the incident.”  “It’s highlighted a much bigger issue. I’ve probably had over 500 messages since last night from women and men, talking about how it’s happened to them, talking about their outrage.” 

On Saturday West Yorkshire Police said a 49 year-old male had been arrested in relation to a call they received on Friday, plus two further reports of indecent exposure this week. 

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