Today (13th March) the HMICFRS, the Inspectorate of the police published their report on the Metropolitan Police Service – an inspection of the Metropolitan Police Service’s response to a review of its investigations into allegations of non-recent sexual abuse by prominent people.
In the report are a series of recommendations, featured amongst them are recommendations to remove references to “belief in the victim” and to include more information on the potential for false allegations. The End Violence Against Women Coalition has serious concerns about these proposals – as set out below:
Sarah Green, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition says:
“It’s beyond belief that the police inspectorate would choose this point in time, when prosecution numbers of rape are the lowest on record, to recommend drastic changes on police codes and practice in believing rape victims when they report.
“Telling police that they should take steps to act in an unusual way around rape and specifically not indicate that they believe the victim is a step right back to the 1980s. It implies there is an unusual likelihood in rape of false allegations, when in fact they are very rare.
“More people are reporting rape and sexual abuse than ever before – with almost 60,000 reports made last year- but charging rates have fallen so dramatically that there are now less than a thousand convictions, amounting to the effective decriminalisation of rape. Why would you throw in something further that might inhibit victims?
“Today’s report and recommendations follow the Carl Beech allegations. Our system should be robust enough to withstand the actions of one individual making claims against high profile individual, but it seems we are not.
“The current crisis in rape prosecutions has led to a Rape Review being set up by the Government which is looking into what goes wrong from initial police report to courtroom. We call on the Home and Justice Secretaries, who preside over this Review, to intervene and tell police forces and others to hold off any consideration, response or implementation of these HMIC recommendations until the Rape Review is complete. Anything else would make a mockery of the stated intent to improve access to justice for victims.”