Police failing to record rape complaints as crimes


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The Independent Online

Up to a third of all rape allegations made to police in some parts of London were never recorded as crimes at all last year, disturbing new figures reveal today.

Statistics released to The Independent and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism show that in 2013, officers working for the Metropolitan Police classified 22 per cent of the 4,339 rape reports they received as either “crime-related incidents” or “no crimes”.

But there was huge variations across the London boroughs, with 30 per cent of allegations being dropped in this way in Bexley, Lambeth and Kingston-upon-Thames compared with just 9 per cent in Enfield and 13 per cent in Newham. As many as 32 per cent of allegations made in Lambeth did not make official crime figures.

Earlier this week a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found police across the country were failing to record 20 per cent of all crimes accurately.

These new figures show that very significant under-recording extends even to the most serious of crimes. The situation is likely to be similar across much of the country, but many forces do not even record initial allegations of rape – making it impossible to measure drop off rates.

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It comes after The Independent and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism yesterday highlighted significant falls in conviction rates for rape across the country - and a case which was dropped by prosecutors in part because the woman was wearing Spanx.

The police are supposed to record allegations of rape as a crime as soon as they think that on the balance of probabilities a rape has occurred. They can only then drop an allegation if additional evidence comes to light proving no offence occurred. If this happens the allegation is recorded as a ‘no-crime’.

Crime statistics show the number of rapes classed as ‘no-crimes’ are dropping in many forces, including the Met. But the Bureau’s investigation reveals that a high proportion of rape allegations made to the Met were never recorded as a crime in the first place - meaning they were dropped at even earlier stage.

These allegations are classified as ‘crime related incidents’ (CRIs), a category that is only meant to be used where the police cannot confirm that a crime has taken place to start with – for example if a caller reports a rape without identifying the victim.

Thirteen per cent of rape complaints made to the Met in 2013 were classified in this way, compared with 9 per cent that were classed as ‘no-crimes’.

The revelation that so many reported rapes are dismissed as CRIs has raised the concern that the Met has been misusing this category for cases it does not want to pursue.

A report to the Met by one of the victims of black cab driver John Worboys, who was convicted in 2009 of multiple drug-assisted rapes, was classified as a CRI rather than a crime.

A Met spokeswoman said some cases could end up not being recorded as they were actually the responsibility of other forces.

In a statement the force said: “To date within the current calendar year only 2 ‘no crimes’ have been authorised compared to 80 during the same period in 2013.

“In May 2014 the Met will hold its first independent review panel consisting of three law professors who will consider these ‘no crime’ decisions.”