Met Police rape victim failings

The police watchdog has published a highly-critical report on the Met Police's Sapphire sex crime unit. It said officers pressurise women to drop rape claims, including one against a man who went on to murder his two children.

Met police action over rape claims 'catastrophic' for women

The Women's Resource Centre, a charity which supports women's organisations has condemned Metropolitan Police after an IPCC report found officers had pressurised women to drop rape claims:

Yet another catastrophic outcome for women and children as a result of serious and endemic institutionalised failings within the police, and even more worryingly within a specific unit of the police set up to deal with rape and sexual violence.

They are obviously not fit for purpose! When will the institutionalised sexism obviously rife across the country be properly and satisfactorily addressed? Furthermore, in the wake of £3billion worth of cuts to the women’s sector under this coalition government, when will the life-saving work of women's charitable organisations be fully resourced to ensure appropriate support is available to women who have experienced such heinous crimes?

– Vivienne Hayes, CEO, Women’s Resource Centre

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Metropolitan Police respond to IPCC report

The Metropolitan Police has issued the following statement in reaction to a highly-critical report on practices in the Southwark Sapphire Unit, a department dedicated to investigating rapes.

"The Metropolitan Police Service welcomes the findings of the IPCC report into the investigation of rape on Southwark borough between July 2008 and September 2009.

"We have for some time acknowledged that previous investigation of rape and serious sexual assault in the MPS was below standard. The activities identified in this report came during that era and highlight specific issues within Southwark which resulted in unacceptable actions by local officers.

"It is as a result of such failings that we have made substantial changes to the investigation of rape and serious sexual assault, both in terms of structure and revised working practices."In 2009 Sapphire was moved to Specialist Crime and Operations to increase the focus on victim care and improve investigation standards. This has led to increased supervision and the Met being much better placed to identify any wrongdoing and refer it to the IPCC. The number of prosecutions has increased by 18% and victim care has improved significantly.

"We are not complacent and know there is always more that can be done to improve our service to victims. That is why we continue to work closely with key partners including the CPS, the Havens and charities such as Rape Crisis. There is also more focused engagement with external scrutiny bodies ensuring the MPS learns lessons and continues to improve performance and public confidence."

IPCC: Police pressured woman to drop rape claim

Police from a heavily criticised sex crime unit pressured a woman to drop a rape claim against a man who went on to murder his two children, the police watchdog has said.

An earlier rape allegation against Jean Say was dismissed by a detective sergeant at the Southwark Sapphire unit, who said the circumstances did not constitute rape because the woman "consented".

Jean Say killed his son and daughter when they went to stay with him for a weekend.

Deputy chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, Deborah Glass, said:

"There's no doubt this was an incredibly serious, shocking incident. We know with all the cases that we've dealt with that the consequences of not dealing with allegations of rape can be extremely serious.

"This is yet another tragic illustration of that."

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Failings at Met sex crime unit between 2008-2009

A report from the Independent Police Complaints Commission has found failings in the working practices of the Metropolitan Police's Sapphire sex crime unit between July 2008 & Sept 2009.

It found instances when officers failed to believe victims and in one example, a woman was pressured to drop a rape claim against a man who went on to murder his two children.

Deputy chairwoman of the IPCC Deborah Glass said it was a sorry chapter of the Sapphire Unit’s history.

"The pressure to meet targets as a measure of success, rather than focusing on the outcome for the victim, resulted in the police losing sight of what policing is about – protecting the public and deterring and detecting crime."