The Metropolitan Police today began a new drive to encourage victims to report sexual attacks after a series of high-profile failures damaged the reputation of Britain’s biggest force to investigate crimes against women.
The force launched a new website which highlights the opportunity for women to report attacks to groups other than the police. Police are concerned that the number of rapes reported in London has fallen this year compared with the rest of the country.
Some women’s groups claim that the fall can be attributed in part to investigation failures including one case which led to a former detective, Ryan Coleman-Farrow, being jailed for 16 months for sabotaging a string of cases by falsifying records.
Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Duthie, the head of Scotland Yard’s specialist sex crime unit Sapphire, said it was not clear if the decline in reporting was linked to an exodus during the Olympics or other factors including previous police failures.
“We know historically that we only get 20 to 25 per cent of rapes reported to us,” he said.
“We’re trying to build confidence in the Met but also encourage and empower victims to take the right decision for them.”
The website, www.mydecision.co.uk takes the victim through a list of options to report crimes or to seek help after attack. It followed research which suggested that some victims felt they would not be believed or were confused about where to go.
The Sapphire unit was overhauled in 2009 following the conviction of one of Britain’s most prolific sex attackers, taxi driver John Worboys, who was found to have continued attacking women after some victims’ claims were not believed.
The force is prepared for further criticism of the way it has handled sex crime allegations. The police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, is due to report early next year on the failings of one south London Sapphire team between 2008 and 2009