A POLICE chief has been criticised for her response to a judge’s concerns over the investigation into the death of 13-month-old Poppi Worthington.

A leaked Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report into Cumbria Police’s handling of the case also said the initial probe was “not conducted diligently and expediently”.

It stated Cumbria’s acting chief constable Michelle Skeer took more than a month to hold a meeting over the concerns raised in March 2014 by a High Court family judge who found no “real” investigation was conducted for nine months into the toddler’s death.

A 30-minute meeting was eventually held by the then assistant chief constable which “would not have been time to go through all the points raised in the judgement”, according to the BBC.

Twelve basic omissions by the police were identified by Mr Justice Peter Jackson as part of a fact-finding court judgement made as part of care proceedings involving Poppi’s siblings.

It was said that senior detectives thought a pathologist “may have jumped to conclusions” in her belief the youngster had been a victim of abuse.

Last month, Mr Justice Jackson ruled Poppi’s 48-year-old father Paul Worthington – on the balance of probabilities – “perpetrated a penetrative... assault” on her before the youngster collapsed with serious injuries at her home in Barrow-in-Furness in December 2012.

Mr Worthington denies any wrongdoing.

Mrs Skeer, who had previously acted as director of professional standards for the constabulary, was also criticised by the IPCC for not referring the judge’s criticisms to the department she had headed as she instead asked an officer to carry out an internal assessment.

The IPCC report concluded: “There is substantial evidence available to support the contention that the reason this case has still not reached a resolution... is because of the unstructured and disorganised approach,” reported the BBC.

In December, Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes asked Mrs Skeer to take over as temporary chief constable while chief constable Jerry Graham was on leave due to illness.

Mr Rhodes described her as “a professional and experienced officer who is very able to lead the force in the interim”.

But John Woodcock, Labour/Co-operative MP for Barrow-in-Furness, has questioned her position.

He told BBC North West Tonight: “This (IPCC) report is nearly a year old and the decision for the deputy chief constable to step up to be acting head of the whole force, it is really concerning given the scale of the criticism of her personally within this report, which still remains hidden from public view.”

Last month, justice minister Caroline Dineage told the Commons that a planned second inquest into Poppi’s death should not delay publication of the IPCC report.

The IPCC has stated it would consider publication “once all relevant proceedings have concluded”.

The Crown Prosecution Service is reviewing its previous decision not to pursue criminal charges in connection with Poppi’s death.

Mr Rhodes said he had now received a copy of the IPCC report but was presently unable to comment on its findings.

He said the IPCC had provided it to him in order “to facilitate and inform internal discussions with the Chief Constable”, with the watchdog adding “it must not be disclosed further, or its content discussed, without the prior permission of the IPCC”.

The commissioner said: “I have now received a copy of the IPCC report into Cumbria Constabulary’s investigation into the death of Poppi Worthington.

“The instructions on how I am entitled to use the report are quite clear.

“In the absence of that permission I have no further comment to make for the time being.”

Cumbria Constabulary spokesman said: “In April 2014 ACC Skeer asked the new temporary Head of Crime to assess the adverse judgement from the family court to obtain the full facts. 

"ACC Skeer was aware that the adverse judgement from the family court had been directed to be sent to a number of organisations at the same time it was sent to the Constabulary.

"This included: 

• The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) 

• The Crown Prosecution Service 

• HM Coroner 

• The Chief Coroner for England and Wales 

“Following completion of this assessment in June, which established the facts and highlighted that there may be issues of misconduct, a referral was made to the IPCC in conjunction with Professional Standards and the Deputy Chief Constable. 

“Consequently the IPCC conducted an independent investigation and submitted their report to the Constabulary. Mrs Skeer provided a witness statement to the IPCC as part of this investigation.

“In June 2014 Mrs Skeer arranged for a second investigation into Poppi’s death to be conducted by a different experienced senior investigating officer and new investigation team. 

“This file was subsequently submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service.”