Kayleigh Haywood was a 15-year-old schoolgirl from Measham in North West Leicestershire who received an unsolicited Facebook message from a man she did not know on Saturday 31 October 2015. Kayleigh replied, and during the following 13 days she was groomed online by the man, 27-year-old Luke Harlow, who lived in nearby Ibstock. After an exchange of 2,643 messages Kayleigh finally succumbed to Harlow’s request that she spent the evening of Friday 13 November with him at his flat, and, at his instigation, she told her parents that she was spending the night with a schoolfriend.
The following day, she text her mother asking to spend another night with her “friend”, and during that Saturday evening Harlow invited his next door neighbour, 28-year-old Stephen Beadsman, to join them in his flat. Having been plied with drink throughout the weekend and sexually assaulted by Harlow, Kayleigh was ultimately held against her will that Saturday night. When she tried to flee in the early hours of Sunday morning, November 15, she was chased by Stephen Beadman, who raped and murdered her, and left her body in a farmer’s field.
Following a major investigation by Leicestershire Police, Harlow pleaded guilty to grooming and sexually assaulting Kayleigh, and to charges that he attempted to groom two other teenage girls. For his part, Beadman pleaded guilty to raping and murdering the schoolgirl.
But both men denied having held Kayleigh against her will, and following a trial at Nottingham Crown Court in June 2016 they were both convicted of this offence.
Harlow was sent to prison for 12 years, and Beadman was sentenced to life, with a recommendation that he must serve at least 35 years before he can be considered for release.
Kayleigh’s Love Story tells the events of the last two weeks of Kayleigh’s life, from the moment that Harlow got in touch with her to the moment that she was killed by his next door neighbour.
The multiple award-winning five minute film was made with the support of Kayleigh’s family by the Force’s Communications and Engagement department in association with Affixxius Films of Loughborough which produced and directed the film. Shot over five days with a professional cast in February 2016 on location in Loughborough and Nottingham, the film is a harrowing warning of the dangers of talking to strangers online, and was made to raise greater awareness among children and adults of this growing threat to public safety.
Having made the first “cut” of the film, it was shown over the following two months to more than 250 experts in the field of child protection and film production and classification throughout the UK, and re-edited to take account of the advice and suggestions provided by those specialists.
Once completed, the film was shown first to Kayleigh’s parents, then to her close friends, and then, before the school summer holidays of 2016, to children in six schools in North West Leicestershire with the agreement of their parents and teachers.
Public screenings for adults throughout Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland followed during the summer of 2016.
From 21 September 2016, a major roll out of the film began in schools throughout Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, involving a team of specially-trained Police Community Support Officers screening the film to children aged 11 and above. All these screenings took place with the agreement and active support of teachers and parents, and involved the PCSOs discussing the dangers of onl.ine and the issues the film raises with groups of no more than 30 children at a time. By the end of March 2017, the film had been screened to a total of 55,000 schoolchildren across the force area in more than 1,100 separate screenings.
As a direct result of these screenings, more than 40 children approached the police to make “disclosures” which, in some cases, has led to active investigations into those suspected of committing offences against children.
Whilst these screenings were taking place, the film was released under embargo to all police forces in the UK who were encouraged to start a similar programme of school screenings.
The Film Online
On 3 January 2017, with the programme of school screenings nearly completed, Kayleigh’s Love Story was released online on YouTube and on the Force’s Facebook site by Leicestershire Police. It went viral within a day.
Since the film went live online on 3 January 2017 it has been viewed an estimated 35 million times by people in every country in the world. Comments, praise and questions have been received by Leicestershire Police from around the world, and rarely a week goes by without a request for someone form the force to present the film to a group, organisation or at a conference about children protection. Presentations have been given to scores of different organisations and international conferences.
Kayleigh’s Love Story has won seven film awards:
EVCOM: Platinum Award for best in awards film, 2017 EVCOM: Gold award in the Social Media category,2017 EVCOM: Silver award for Laures, 2017 EVCOM: Bronze award for Charity and Not for Profit category,2017 ROYAL TELEVISION SOCIETY MIDLANDS: Gold Award, Best Promotional Programme, 2016 DRUM CREAM: Best Digital: Online Video/Film/Viral Advert or Campaign, 2016 EVCOM: Bronze, Social Screen category of the Clarion Awards
The CEASE Campaign
Kayleigh's Love Story is the centre piece of our ongoing campaign to tackle child sexual abuse and exploitation. The campaign - CEASE (commitment to eradicate abuse and sexual exploitation)- is a major multi-agency campaign that was launched in February 2016 by the Police and Crime Commissioner and involves schools of different agencies.
Central the campaign is the aim of raising greater public awareness of CSE and we want everyone to play their part by making a commitment that such abuse and exploitation of children will not be tolerated and help spot the signs to prevent young people coming to harm.
In memory of Kayleigh and to protect all of our children, please pledge your support to help stop this appalling crime which sees vulnerable young people deliberately targeted and preyed upon. We all have a responsibility to help tackle it.
So far we have more than 35,000 pledges towards our total target of 100,000. If just one in every 10 residents of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland signed this pledge we will reach our target. Join our campaign and sign our pledge.