The Independent Police Complaints Commission has criticised the practises of a London borough's Met Police rape unit. They called their failings 'deeply disturbing.'
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".
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."
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."
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."
A new website is being launched today that gives victims of sexual assault a step-by-step guide to how they can get support from the police.
The site comes in response to figures that nine out of 10 rapes and sexual assaults go unreported due to a lack of confidence in the criminal system.
A 19-year-old woman has been raped on Brighton beach by two men while another man watched, police said today.
The woman from Kent told officers the pair in their 30s grabbed and raped her in the early hours of the morning, while a third man looked on.
– Detective Sergeant Graham Lewendon, Sussex Police
We would like to speak to anyone who saw the woman near the Coalition nightclub or anyone who saw three men acting suspiciously or running away.
Allison Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, said she welcomed the We Believe You campaign launched by Mumsnet to provide support for victims of sexual attacks:
Rape and sexual assault are dreadful crimes and ones that are often difficult for someone to report because of fear, shame and embarrassment. As the Mumsnet survey shows, victims can also be reticent to come forward for fear of being demonised in court and even in the media.
A survey of more than 1,600 women has revealed that a tenth of those who responded had been raped and a third had been sexually assaulted. More than four in five of the victims did not report the attack to police due to concerns over low conviction rates, embarrassment and shame, the figures showed.