Bereaved mum Karen Edwards is celebrating after being told that her campaign for justice is part of the Conservative manifesto.
And Community and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles visited her personally today to let her know.
More than four years ago on 4 April 2011 the West Swindon mother was given the devastating news that her daughter Becky, who had disappeared in 2003, had been murdered.
Eighteen months later Swindon taxi driver Christopher Halliwell was convicted of abducting and murdering Swindon office worker Sian O’Callaghan.
But during the trial, evidence regarding Becky was ruled inadmissable because Police & Criminal Evidence Act guidelines had not been followed. During a fast moving investigation, Halliwell, despite confessing to killing Becky, had not been correctly cautioned and his evidence had not been recorded in the presence of a solicitor at a police station.
Rather than giving in to her grief, Karen started a campaign called Justice for Becky to change the law and called for mobile, recording technology to be used in gathering evidence in the field.
On 14 January, with the help of South Swindon MP Robert Buckland, Karen presented a 40,000 name petition calling for changes to PACE to 10 Downing Street.
Karen Edwards said: “It’s brilliant news. We’ve got this far. Now we’ve got to hope and pray that The Conservatives get back in. I can’t believe it. It’s been really hard and there’s been many a time where you feel like you’re taking three steps forward and four steps back. It doesn’t seem long ago that I knocked on Number 10 and David Cameron said he wanted to be kept abreast of it and the next thing I know it’s part of their actual election manifesto. This is a real commitment. I’m ecstatic.
“Like I said, it’s not going to bring Becky back but at the end of the day it might stop another family, even if it’s one family, going through the emotional trauma that we’ve gone through. It proposes that every single police officer wear cameras, body cameras which will record arrests that will help towards a conviction bringing it into the 21st Century. The army have been using it for a while but it’s never been used here. It’s going to help the police and help the public. You can’t get simpler than that.
“It was wonderful meeting Eric Pickles. He was a Yorkshireman who said it like it is. It’s unbelievable the support I’ve received.”
Photo and source interview: Richard Wintle of Calyxpix – Pictured above: Tory South Swindon Parliamentary Candidate Robert Buckland (left), Karen Edwards and Eric Pickles