Mar 17, 2009
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.”
- ENDS -
Trish Keville, IPCC Press Office for London and South East on 07789 948 387 or, out of office hours, call 07717 851 157.
An act of parliament that provides the core framework of police powers to combat crime and provide codes of practice for the exercise of these powers.
Leads and manages the development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The body that represents the interests of all police constables, sergeants, and inspectors.
Department within a police force that deals with complaints and conduct matters.
The average is calculated using the individual results of the forces in that most similar force group.
An investigation carried out by IPCC staff.
Carried out by the police under their own direction and control. The IPCC sets the terms of reference and receives the investigation report when it is complete. Complainants have a right of appeal following a supervised investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
This act sets out how the police complaints system operates.
How a police force is run, for example policing standards or policing policy.
An investigation carried out by the police under the direction and control of the IPCC.
An intelligence-led agency with law enforcement powers, it is also responsible for reducing the harm that is caused to people and communities by serious organised crime.
Investigations carried out entirely by the police. Complainants have a right of appeal following a local investigation (unless it is an investigation into a direction and control matter).
A person is adversely affected is he or she suffers any form of loss or damage, distress or inconvenience, if he or she is put in danger or is otherwise unduly put at risk of being adversely affected.
IPCC guidance to the police service and police authorities on the handling of complaints.
Parameters within which an investigation is conducted.
This could be the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Common Council for the City of London, or the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime.
A flexible process for dealing with complaints that can be adapted to the needs of the complainant. It may involve, for example, providing information and explanation, an apology, or a meeting between the complainant and the officer complained about.
Consists of a chair, two deputy chairs, and commissioners – each responsible for specific police forces, guardianship work and individual cases.
Disapplication means that a police force may handle a complaint in whatever manner it thinks fit, including not dealing with it under complaints legislation. This may only take place in certain limited circumstances where the complaint fits one or more of the grounds for disapplication set out in law.
The ending of an ongoing investigation into a complaint, conduct matter or DSI matter. An investigation may only be discontinued if it meets one or more of the grounds for discontinuance set out in law.
Used to house anyone who has been detained.
Complainants have the right to appeal to the IPCC if a police force did not record their complaint or notify the correct police force if it was made originally to the wrong force.
The purpose of an investigation is to establish the facts behind a complaint, conduct matter, or DSI matter; and reach conclusions. An investigator looks into a complaint and produces a report that details the outcome of each allegation. There are four types of investigation: local investigation, supervised investigation, managed investigation and independent investigation.
A person who makes a complaint about the conduct of someone serving with the police.
The type of behaviour being complained about. A single complaint case can have one or many allegations attached.
An independent judicial officer, the coroner enquires into deaths reported to him/her.
A record is made of a complaint, giving it formal status as a complaint under the Police Reform Act 2002.
No further action may be taken with regard to a complaint if the complainant decides to retract their allegation(s).
Casework involves assessing appeals. Casework staff also have a role in overseeing the police complaints system to help ensure police forces handle complaints in the best possible way.
The IPCC must be notified about specific types of complaint or incidents to be able to decide how they should be dealt with.
Conduct includes acts, omissions, statements and decisions (whether actual, alleged or inferred). For example: language used and the manner or tone of communications.
An application by a complainant for a police decision to be reviewed.