Given recent concerns raised about the underfunding of CEOP and the police in general, I thought I’d share this story with you. It should give you an insight into some of the things that are wrong with law enforcement and crimes involving child sexual abuse in the UK and also demonstrate the lengths I will sometimes go to to get to the bottom of a story. I’ve not published this before On the 25th March this year someone tipped me off about this story below. It is from a local free newspaper and I found that it was at that time only being reported in a couple of other local free newspapers. Two weeks later The Express would run a story on it.
A SHOCKING ‘snuff movie’ was found at the Skelmersdale home of a young factory worker along with other appalling child abuse images, a court has heard. And a judge told Andreas Bauminis: “It is hard to imagine or contemplate a more grotesque, revolting, repulsive and inhuman series of images.” The disgusting videos were discovered at the home of Bauminis following information from the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation about use of internet file sharing sites. Police went to his home, which he shared with his brother’s family, including two children, in February last year and seized his computer tower. When arrested Bauminis said: “I’m sorry, I have downloaded two or three videos involving 12 to 15-year-old girls from a sharing programme.”
Now, ‘snuff’ movies are a very difficult issue to pin down. It is not that movies that are suspected to be of murdered children do not exist but that it is almost impossible to prove that they are genuine and not special effects, a problem that can only have been exacerbated since the 1980s due to technological innovation.
The question that drove my investigation was a very simple one. As a child abuse video had turned up that had convinced a judge which contained evidence of a murder, what further action were the police taking ?
My first call was to Lancashire Police but they had no record of Andreas Bauminis.
So I then called Merseyside Police but they had no record of him either.
And so I then call the CEOP press office but they could not find him. I explained that the evidence in the case included 20-minute ‘snuff’ video showing a 15-year-old girl being raped, strangled with a wire and apparently murdered before being wrapped in a plastic sheet and dragged out the room. She accepted that it was something that CEOP would be likely to look at but she didn’t know anything about the case.
Right, I thought, I better start from the beginning and check that the story was true and so I called Liverpool Crown Court where a lovely lady there confirmed that the court case had taken place and was true. I explained my dilemma but she had no record of which police force had been involved with this case. However, she did very helpfully suggest that I contact the regional CPS office.
I should just say that both the lady at Liverpool Crown Court and the lady at Merseyside/Cheshire CPS were extremely helpful and efficient.
The CPS did have a record of Andreas Bauminis and gave me a CPS reference number.
I then called Lancashire Police back and after once again asking about Andreas Bauminis who they still couldn’t find, I gave them the reference number the CPS had given me. Hey presto! They found him. They’d misspelt his name!
This raised altogether new concerns. Afterall, if Andreas Bauminis’ name had been spelled incorrectly on the arresting police force’s records, would his name be correctly spelled on the sex offenders register ?
After spending a minute correcting the spelling of Andreas Bauminis’ name on Lancashire Police’s records, I could now finally ask the question I’d originally set out to get an answer to. ‘What further action was being taken in the light of potential evidence of a murder being found when Andreas Bauminis’ home had been raided ?’
The lady in the press office didn’t know but did give me the telephone number of the police station in charge of the investigation.
So, I called them.
‘What further action was being taken in the light of potential evidence of a murder being found when Andreas Bauminis’ home had been raided ?’
The officer who took my call didn’t know but, she said, the officer in charge of the investigation would know. ‘Could I speak to him?’ He wasn’t there and so I gave my name, address, telephone number, and email to the police officer and asked if he could pass on my details to the officer in charge of the investigation so that he could call me back. (I never received a call back)
Undeterred, I called up CEOP once again. In the meantime someone at CEOP press office had looked up and found Andreas Bauminis. As the newspaper report had suggested the UK investigation had begun after the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation had tipped of CEOP. CEOP had then identified Andreas Bauminis and passed the information on to Lancashire Police.
‘ And’, I asked, ‘What further action was being taken in the light of potential evidence of a murder being found when Andreas Bauminis’ home had been raided ?’
They didn’t know. Once CEOP had passed the information on to Lancashire Police it was their investigation. CEOP’s part had been played.
Didn’t they think that potentially evidence of a ‘snuff’ movie, probably filmed abroad, should have been fed back to CEOP ?
‘Probably, yes’, she replied.
And there you have it. CEOP is a fantastic idea but if it is to work efficiently in the interests of child protection it needs to be a great deal better resourced and act as a central hub which not only feeds information out to regional police forces but receives information back.
The system in the past has not been joined up and that has been part, though by no means not all, of the problems that led to a proliferation of child abuse in the 1970s, 1980’s, and 1990’s but the issues are not just historical. It is better than it was but it is still not properly joined up.