Police Force Criticised Over Death Of Darlington Teen

A convicted rapist who went on to murder a 17-year-old girl in County Durham after befriending her on Facebook ``slipped away'' from police with ``terrible consequences'', the police watchdog said.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission blamed ``inadequate resources'' at Merseyside Police for the ``poor management'' of registered sex offender Peter Chapman, who murdered Ashleigh Hall in October 2009.

Chapman, whom the force was supposed to be monitoring when he committed the murder, befriended Ashleigh on the social networking site while posing as a fictitious ``good-looking'' 19-year-old boy called Peter Cartwright.

After becoming her Facebook friend and chatting on other social networking sites, he arranged to meet her on the evening of October 25 and went on to kidnap, rape and strangle the childcare student, later found dumped in a farmer's field.

The IPCC said staffing levels in the Knowsley sex offender unit, which was in charge of monitoring Chapman, meant effective management of offenders was ``impossible''.

The report revealed that the unit was being run by a single female police constable, who was in charge of monitoring more than 60 sex offenders and was making visits alone in her own car due to a lack of resources.

The investigation also found that she had received no appropriate training in the management of sex offenders.

IPCC Commissioner Naseem Malik said: ``It is evident from our investigation that this particular sex offender unit was inadequately resourced and as a result the officer tasked with managing sex offenders in the community had an impossible task. Chapman was not monitored effectively and managed to slip away, with terrible consequences.''

She added: ``For it to take a year for him to be apprehended was unacceptable. The slow response understandably prompts concern among the public.''

Chapman was jailed for life in March last year after admitting the kidnap, rape and murder of Ashleigh.