Rape audit to find out why so few win justice
The project to ask victims about their own experiences will be conducted next year and is part of a nationwide audit of police forces and Crown Prosecution Service performance. It is a significant departure for HMIC, which has focused previously on policing procedures and performance. In another joint initiative by the Home Office and Association of Chief Police Officers, a group known as the rape support programme will begin touring the country this month advising police forces on how to implement the latest guidance on rape investigations.
Dave Gee, the former detective chief superintendent who heads the programme, said that Britain’s low conviction rates were partly due to poor evidence gathering and “indifferent attitudes” towards rape by police. “Too often, because of the negative mind at the outset, the case is undermined rather than built up,” he said.
Two rape cases this year highlighted dismissive attitudes among police officers. John Worboys, a London taxi driver, was left free to attack hundreds of women because police officers did not believe victims’ reports of being assaulted. One woman was told that black cab drivers “don’t do that sort of thing”. Only weeks after Worboys was jailed, Kirk Reid was convicted of 26 attacks, including two rapes. Reid had come to the police’s attention 12 times before he was arrested and charged and is thought to have attacked more than 70 women.