IPCC publishes findings following investigation in Met Police handling of sexual offences case
A Superintendent and two Inspectors are to face a Full Powers Misconduct Panel, following an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) into the Metropolitan Police's handling of the case of Kirk Reid.
The IPCC's independent investigation found that:
- there was a sustained failure by senior supervisory officers to give the investigation the priority it required and to get a grip on the long-standing pattern of offences committed within a single borough.
- investigating sexual assaults was never a priority on the borough
- supervisory officers felt under pressure in relation to performance and targets set by the centre.
- a lack of resources allocated to the investigation and the constant change of heads of department contributed to the failings.
Kirk Reid attacked lone women on the A24 corridor and near to Balham and Tooting underground stations. In March 2009, he was found guilty of 27 sexual offences and the MPS has linked him to a possible 80 -100 other sexual assaults between 2001 - 2008.
The investigation into this series of offences, known as Anflora, was carried out by officers from Wandsworth Borough, whose Sapphire Unit was set up in 2003, until January 2008, when a decision was made to allocate the series to the Specialist Crime Directorate (SCD 1) of the MPS.
Within three days of this re-allocation, Reid was arrested. He was then charged and ultimately convicted and imprisoned.
As Reid had come to the attention of the police in 2002 and 2004, the MPS conducted an internal review of their investigation into Reid, and when the internal review had concluded, referred their handling of the case to the IPCC in January 2009.
An IPCC Senior Investigator examined the review. Eight officers, ranging from Detective Sergeant to Superintendent rank, were interviewed under misconduct caution and asked to account for their actions and decision-making.
The investigation concluded that a Superintendent, who was responsible for managing crime in Wandsworth for three years from November 2004, has a case to answer. It has also concluded that two Detective Inspectors, who were supervising Wandsworth Borough Sapphire Unit from March 2003 until July 2005, have a case to answer.
The final IPCC report was passed to the MPS in December 2009 with a request for the MPS proposals for how they intended to deal with potential misconduct matters. These proposals were received in May 2010 and agreed in June 2010.
A Chief Superintendent and a Detective Sergeant received formal Words of Advice.
It is also part of the IPCC's remit to identify good practice and the investigation found that a number of junior officers showed commendable investigative skills. The IPCC has recommended that the crime analyst whose work led to Reid's conviction should be commended.
IPCC Commissioner for London, Deborah Glass, said:
"The failure to take a serial sex offender off the streets of London years earlier is a shameful chapter in the history of the Metropolitan Police Service. When considered alongside the failings in the case of John Worboys, their overall effect on the confidence of the victims of sexual offences in the police response cannot be over-stated. That is damaging not only for victims, but for the many dedicated officers who have worked hard to make a difference.
"The MPS has acknowledged its failings, apologised to the victims of Worboys and Reid at the time of the convictions, and implemented significant changes to the way the police deal with victims of sexual offences. There has been a complete restructure of the MPS response to sexual offences, and credit should be given to them for that.
"The lack of resources allocated to the investigation, pressure in relation to performance and targets, and the constant change of heads of department undoubtedly did not help.
"But in my view none of these factors provides real mitigation for the sustained failure by senior supervisory officers to give this investigation the priority it required and to get a grip on what was plainly a long-standing pattern of terrifying offences committed within a single borough."
The Commissioner’s Report into the MPS’s handling of the Kirk Reid case is available at www.ipcc.gov.uk/KirkReidCommissionersReport.pdf.
UPDATE ON IPCC RECOMMENDATIONS FOLLOWING REPORT INTO MPS HANDLING OF CASE OF JOHN WORBOYS
In January 2010, the IPCC published the findings of its independent investigation into the MPS's handling of the case of John Worboys, a black cab driver who drugged and sexually assaulted women across south London.
The IPCC report contained a number of recommendations, developed with the voluntary sector. These were designed to address the widely held perception that women reporting sexual offences are not taken seriously, either because of the nature of the offence or because their investigation is not believed to be a priority.
The MPS has accepted all the recommendations. They report that some of the actions are complete, while others are ongoing. Some of these represent significant changes - third party reporting is now established formally through The Havens, and all Sapphire Detective Inspectors are required to work with Community Safety Partnerships to promote local sexual violence forums.
The response of the voluntary sector is mixed, although the trend is positive. For example, joint working at a senior level is clearly in evidence, although variable at lower ranks. Many services have good experiences of police who handled rape reports with sensitivity and empathy.
IPCC Commissioner for London Deborah Glass said:
"When I speak to representatives from the voluntary sector who work with victims of sexual violence, the overall view seems to be that there have been real improvements in the way the Met handles these kind of cases, although the standard of service is still inconsistent. The Met deserves credit for these improvements but more needs to be done, particularly around training of front-line officers, to ensure that this area is never again regarded as a low priority for policing."
For further information please contact IPCC press officer Patricia Keville on 020 7166 3130.
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