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Statement re Met investigations of rape and serious sexual offences

News   •   Sep 15, 2019 12:24 BST

Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons

The Met is committed to providing the best possible service to all victims of rape and serious sexual offences.

To improve how the Met protects vulnerable people, dedicated safeguarding teams were formed on each of the 12 Basic Command Units (BCU) across London.

The roll-out of BCUs, which was completed in early 2019 and replaced the previous 32-borough model, was designed to reduce operational inefficiencies, provide greater flexibility in local policing, and ensure a more co-ordinated, victim-focussed approach.

Before the BCU restructure, the Child Abuse Investigation Team (CAIT) and the Met’s Sexual Offences Command (Sapphire) would investigate sexual offences, and borough Community Safety Units would take the lead on domestic abuse cases. This disjointed approach was amongst the factors which led to the creation of an integrated Safeguarding unit on each BCU.

Now, all of these officers work as part of one team, ensuring investigations and the sharing of information is better co-ordinated; rape investigators work closely alongside colleagues dealing with domestic abuse cases, child abuse and other safeguarding matters, ensuring investigations and the sharing of information is more joined up. This close working has meant that linked series of offences can be identified more quickly. 

In terms of resourcing, an additional 300 safeguarding roles have been created.

The safeguarding teams will in most cases lead on investigations into rape and serious sexual offences. Central support and assistance from the Met’s Specialist Crime can still be utilised.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons said: “It is true that safeguarding officers deal with what are often distressing cases. This work brings unique demands and pressures, both personal and operational.

“However, protecting the most vulnerable and securing justice for victims in such complex and challenging investigations is one of the most rewarding in the Metropolitan Police Service and represents some of the best examples of dedicated police work.

“Our officers do a fantastic job under challenging circumstances.

“It is important to note, there has been a rise in the number of rapes and serious sexual offences reported to the Met in recent years.

“Our officers, detectives and police staff work hard every day to meet this rising demand whilst maintaining high investigative and victim care standards. We are making progress in recruiting the desired number of officers for vacant safeguarding roles.

“We are completely committed to maintaining the confidence and trust of victims of rape and serious sexual offences. We reorganised to address the challenges that already existed and which the previous structure could not cope with. Dedicated safeguarding teams in the new Basic Command Units (BCUs) mean better co-ordination and the availability of more specialist resources for investigations.”

“We have set very high standards and recognise that there is more we need to do to increase referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service, bring more cases before the courts, and improve criminal justice outcomes for victims.

“To drive forward positive changes, we are working hard to coordinate with other agencies to improve investigations into rapes and the service we provide to victims through our Rape Reference Groups and Multi agency Rape Improvement Group, which include other statutory agencies and charities that work with victims, to find out what barriers there are to reporting and how public confidence can be improved.

“A Met-wide Rape Governance Panel has been set up as a means to share best practice, and make the service provided to victims better and more consistent.

“We have also assisted the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) in compiling the London Rape Review, to help increase our understanding of the issues that exist around investigations into rape and serious sexual offences and make the necessary improvements.”