Three Metropolitan Police Officers will be given written warnings, and a fourth will receive words of advice, following an investigation managed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) into a complaint from a victim of an alleged rape.
In February 2005, police received a report that a 15-year-old girl had been raped. The case was allocated to the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) Sapphire Unit to investigate. During the investigation, a series of errors were made:
- The case was allocated to a police constable, despite the Standard Operating Procedure for investigation of sexual offences requiring that an investigation into an allegation of rape be conducted by at least an officer of Detective Constable rank.
- Forensic opportunities at the scene were never explored.
- There was a failure to identify and arrest the suspect at the earliest opportunity.
- Incorrect and unnecessary tests were requested on the girl’s phone which meant, by the time this was identified, it was too late to request the correct examination of phone records and important evidence was lost.
- There was a failure to properly and effectively supervise the investigation.
A man was arrested in May 2005. He was subsequently charged but was found not guilty after a trial. During the trial it became clear that a number of errors had been made by the police.
Follow the trial, the MPS carried out a number of internal reviews which culminated in an admission of errors and an apology to the girl and her mother. However the MPS decided that no disciplinary action should be taken against any individual officers.
The girl then submitted a formal complaint concerning the police investigation into the alleged rape and the manner in which she was dealt with by the MPS. The complaint was referred to the IPCC and a decision was taken that an IPCC investigator would manage the MPS’s examination of the handling of the case.
IPCC Commissioner Amerdeep Somal said: “The report into this investigation highlights that significant errors were made that compromised the quality of the investigation into a very serious offence. It paints a troubling picture of an inexperienced, over-burdened police officer with inadequate supervision working in an under-resourced unit. This was not a complex investigation but basic lines of enquiry were not pursued.
“It is imperative that victims of crimes, particularly of serious sexual offences of this nature, have absolute confidence that the police will properly investigate and allegation that a crime has been committed. Sadly the police investigation into this matter fell far short of what the victim had a basic right to expect.
“It is important to maintain the confidence of victims within the criminal justice system, that matters of this nature are investigated thoroughly and that action will be taken when officers don’t do the job that they should.”
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Trish Keville, IPCC Press Office for London and South East on 07789 948 387 or, out of office hours, call 07717 851 157.
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