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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


  1. London

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."

Keith Vaz: IPCC needs to take quicker action on crimes

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is 'woefully underequipped', according to a group of MPs, who says it relies too heavily on former officers and police resources.

Keith Vaz, the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee behind the report, said that he felt that the IPCC needs to take quicker action, once a crime has happened.

Speaking to ITV Daybreak, he said: "When you make a complaint about the police you want to feel that someone independently is dealing with the case, not the police investigating themselves."

Labour: Coalition needs to tackle IPCC problems

Speaking following the release of the Home Affairs Select Committee report on the IPPC, Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "The Home Affairs Select Committee is right that the IPCC is not strong enough to tackle the problem when policing goes wrong.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper. Credit: Press Assocation

"That is why I called for radical reform of police accountability last year, including replacing the IPCC with a new Police Standards Authority.

"For the public to have confidence in the high standards of British policing, they also need to know that there will be swift, robust action when policing goes wrong.

"Yet this report highlights a series of problems with the operations, powers, resources and support for victims within the current IPCC that the Home Secretary has not addressed."

MPs: IPCC needs greater powers and resources

The IPCC should have a statutory power to force implementation of its findings and in the most serious cases it should instigate a "year on review" to ensure that its recommendations have been properly carried out, the committee said.

Failure to do so would result in an investigation by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The report said the IPCC lacks the resources necessary to "get to the truth" - it has a smaller budget than the Professional Standards Department of the Met Police.

IPCC investigators should be able to take immediate control of a potential crime scene during the crucial "golden hours" and early days of an investigation into deaths and serious injury involving police officers, the committee recommended.


Keith Vaz: IPCC leaves public 'frustrated' and 'faithless'

Following a scathing report on the IPCC from the Home Affairs Select Committee, committee chairman Keith Vaz says the police watchdog leaves the public "frustrated and faithless":

When public trust in the police is tested by complaints of negligence, misconduct and corruption, a strong watchdog is vital to get to the truth - but the IPCC leaves the public frustrated and faithless.

Nearly a quarter of officers were subject to a complaint last year. Many were trivial, but some were extremely serious, involving deaths in custody or corruption - it is an insult to all concerned to do no more than scratch the surface of these alleged abuses.

The IPCC investigated just a handful and often arrived at the scene late, when the trail had gone cold. The Commission is on the brink of letting grave misconduct go uninvestigated.

– Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz

What is the police watchdog, the IPCC?

The IPCC (The Independent Police Complaints Commission). which was established in 2004 and is chaired by Dame Anne Owers, investigates the most serious complaints against the police, as well as the Serious Organised Crime Agency, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and the UK Border Agency.

A total of 31,771 officers were subject to a complaint during 2011/2012 and when appeals were made against the way forces handled a complaint, the IPCC found that the police had been wrong in one in three cases.

MPs: IPCC does not have the power to get to the truth

The police watchdog is "woefully under-equipped and hamstrung" and does not have the power or resources to get to the truth, a scathing report by an influential group of MPs has said.

The IPCC is "woefully under-equipped and hamstrung," according to the Home Affairs Select Committee. Credit: IPCC

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is currently investigating the Hillsborough Disaster in the UK's biggest ever inquiry into police misconduct, should be given a statutory power to require police forces to implement its findings, the Home Affairs Select Committee has said.

And more cases should be investigated independently by the IPCC instead of being referred back to the original police force on a "complaints roundabout", the committee added.

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