Police forced to apologise for sex attacker blunders

The Metropolitan Police were forced to apologise to the victims of a serial sex attacker today after it was revealed he was not arrested until four years after he became a suspect.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will now investigate the Scotland Yard blunders that allowed predator Kirk Reid to roam the streets of London and continue his spate of attacks for so long.

The 44-year-old children's football coach was found guilty of stalking and attacking 25 women during a 12-year period by a jury at Kingston Crown Court today.

After nearly 26 hours of deliberations following a six-week trial, the jury of 10 women and two men convicted Reid of 26 attacks, including two rapes.

The college head chef, from south London, admitted a further two indecent assaults.

Judge Shani Barnes praised the efforts of officers who finally brought Reid to justice after "years of inadequate work" by police.

Commander Mark Simmons from the Metropolitan Police's territorial policing unit said: "It is clear from the evidence heard in court that the standard of investigation was not what we as an organisation, or the victims, should have expected.

"Reid should have been arrested sooner and I, on behalf of the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) and as head of Sapphire, am sorry those women who were subsequently attacked by him have been caused unnecessary suffering."

Lisa Longstaff, of charity Women Against Rape, said police incompetence "has to stop".

She said: "The people responsible have to be held responsible, and should lose their jobs.

"It's firmly the responsibility of those at the top to make decisions about where their priorities lie, and that goes right up to the Home Office."

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne said: "This is one of the worst cases on record where the police have failed to protect vulnerable women despite repeated and bestial attacks."

Reid repeatedly slipped through the police net over a number of years.

Officers in Wandsworth borough identified that a repeat sex attacker was on the loose in September 2002 and identified Reid as a suspect in February 2004.

But despite Reid crossing their radar on several occasions he was not held until January 2008 when Scotland Yard detectives took over the case.

Police believe Reid preyed on at least 20 more women during the four-year gap.

Reid pounced on his victims as they made their way home from nights out in the Balham, Clapham and Tooting areas of south west London.

Most were between the ages of 20 and 40 but Reid's youngest victim was 17 and the eldest a 61-year-old woman.

The attacks include the rape of a woman Reid grabbed on the street in March 2002 and the unconnected rape of a woman in a flat in 1995.

Police believe Reid is behind at least 71 attacks on women and have launched a helpline for potential victims who may not have yet reported the attacks.

Reid attacked women in three clusters along the A24 corridor, close to Clapham South, Balham and Tooting Bec Tube stations.

He stalked the route of the 155 night bus, a service used by many people heading home from nights out in central London that passes several Tube stations.

He waited until his victims walked into quiet and leafy side streets before grabbing them from behind.

Reid denied rape, 16 counts of indecent assault, three counts of assault by penetration and six counts of sexual assault. He also denied the unconnected rape on another woman in 1995.

Reid, who was cleared of one of the assault charges, will be sentenced on June 5 after undergoing psychiatric assessment.

A Football Association spokesman said Reid was not a qualified FA youth football coach.

* Anyone who believes they have been attacked by Reid can contact specialist police officers on 0800 121 4441.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee