Met Police ‘let down rape victims to protect reputation’

Leveson Inquiry hears astonishing claim by former police chief

Tuesday 28 February 2012

A report critical of the way the Metropolitan Police handled rape cases in London was  ‘watered down’ to protect the force’s reputation, according to evidence given to the inquiry yesterday. Former deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick told the inquiry he was asked in 2005 by the then Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, to review how rape cases were investigated by the Metropolitan Police Service. ‘Performance was patchy and he wanted the best in the world’, Paddick says in his witness statement.

Paddick looked at a period between 2001/2 and 2004/5, which would have included the early crimes of the so-called black-cab rapist, John Worboys. Worboys was convicted of 12 rapes in 2009 but police believe he was attacking women as long ago as 2002, and that the total number of his victims may have been more than 100.

Paddick’s review revealed ‘serious shortcomings’ and made ‘strong recommendations’. Specifically, he says it showed a large increase in the number of rape allegations but a similar fall [my italics] in the percentage of allegations classified as rape by the police. He recommended ‘a consistently victim-centred approach’ to investigating rape allegations in London.

According to Paddick, the report caused alarm at the Met. His witness statement claims that senior officers were concerned about damage to the force’s reputation and he was ‘told to tone down’ the criticisms and ‘water-down the recommendations’. The final report looked at only two months in 2005 and ‘sidestepped any criticism’ of the force. Shortly afterwards, Paddick asked a Met press officer what she’d been asked to do with his report. Her job, she told him, was to make sure it got no coverage.

‘The service the MPS provided to rape victims was sacrificed in favour of the MPS’ reputation’, Paddick’s witness statement (now available on the Leveson Inquiry website) says bluntly.

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