Supreme Court today: rape victims vs Theresa May and police

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UPDATE: The Supreme Court upheld the women’s claim – a significant victory for all rape survivors!

Today 21 February, the Supreme Court will give the verdict on a police appeal to overturn a high court decision which protects rape victims.  This shameful appeal was backed by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Biased and negligent police investigations are a major reason the conviction rate for reported rape remains a disgraceful 6%.  For decades victims of rape have fought for their right to thorough investigations and for the gathering of evidence that could result in the prosecution of their attackers.  In the John Warboys case (prosecuted in 2009), police hostility to his victims enabled him to sexually assault over 100 women with impunity.  One victim spoke publicly about how the police laughed in her face at her reporting a taxi driver.

In a pathbreaking case in 2014, two of Warboys’ victims used Article 3 of the Human Rights Act to uphold their right to state protection from serious violence (police investigation of crime), and won damages for inhuman and degrading treatment.

Other victims had previously taken similar legal actions. In 2012 Ms X won compensation from the Met after suing the police for breach of policy on the investigation of rape.  Ms X worked with WAR for seven years to uncover what went wrong.  After an in-depth IPCC investigation which spelled out the most horrendous police incompetence and negligence, she took the case through the civil court using this same Article 3 (and Article 8) and was awarded £15,000. The victim’s mother, who worked tirelessly for justice against the systemic police problems on child rape exposed by her daughter’s case said, “When you walk into a police station to report rape you expect the police to investigate thoroughly. I was devastated when they didn’t, because I’d encouraged my daughter to report against her wishes and felt I had let her down.”

May’s support for this legal appeal gives the lie to her pledges to improve laws protecting women from violence.  She also wants to repeal the Human Rights Act, one of the only routes rape survivors have been able to use to hold the police to account, breaking with years of impunity.

May’s blatant hypocrisy is also exposed by her economic policy, slashing women’s escape routes from violence.

Philip Hammond’s budget announcement last year of £30m support for women hides the outrageous financial attacks on women by successive governments, which have increased women and children’s vulnerability to rape and domestic violence, and cut our protection and escape routes:

·       86% of austerity cuts have fallen on women, cutting helplines, refuges, legal aid and criminal injuries compensation;

·       17% of refuges have closed since 2010; 2 in 3 women, and 4 in 5 BME women are turned away from a refuge every day; refuges must compete for dwindling council funds against housing, roads, libraries, etc.; many will close under new proposals to cut housing benefit on which 50 % of refuges depend;

·       the children of mothers who report domestic violence and/or have been impoverished are taken from their mothers who are denied the support and protection they are entitled to; the number of children in care is the highest it’s been for 35 years; the UK has the highest adoption rate in Europe, 90% of it without the family’s consent; this amounts to punishment for mothers reporting rape;

·       victims of domestic violence are denied legal aid and forced to defend themselves against violent ex-partners in the family court; evidence of violence is dismissed and children are forced into contact or even to live with violent fathers, endangering and in some cases ending their lives;

·       women and children seeking asylum from rape and other torture have been refused entry, detained, made destitute and deported;

·       slashed benefits and punitive sanctions have forced mothers into low-waged zero hours jobs or prostitution to feed their kids;

·       sold off public housing has given free reign to profiteering landlords, forcing poor families away from their support networks.

We hope the Supreme Court, now headed by a distinguished woman, will support the rights of rape victims.

 

 

Number of complaints over police handling of sex attacks and domestic violence soars

See quote from WAR below.

Revelations prompt warnings that forces are failing the most vulnerable victims, with campaigners saying police response is ‘matter of life and death’

• Harriet Agerholm The Independent
• @HarrietAgerholm
• 17 February 2018

Domestic abuse accounts for eight per cent of all recorded crime

The number of complaints received by the police watchdog over officers’ handling of sexual assault and domestic violence cases has soared in the past five years, new figures reveal.

Officers have been accused of abusing their powers for sexual gain, falsifying evidence and committing perjury in cases that campaigners say show forces are failing the most vulnerable victims in society.

Complaints to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for officers working on domestic abuse cases rose four-fold between 2011-12 and 2016-17, according to data released to The Independent under freedom of information laws. The spike far exceeds an increase in reported crimes during the same period, with figures indicating a rise of 42 per cent.

The number of referrals also rose against officers dealing with rape, stalking and child sex abuse cases.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, which supports victims of domestic abuse, said alleged mistakes by the police could be a “matter of life and death”. According to the charity’s research 78 people were killed by a current or former partner in 2016.

Complaints to the IOPC – formerly the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) – are made by a force when it believes officers have failed to follow correct protocols.

In 2016-17 there were 342 referrals of officers dealing with domestic abuse cases, up from 83 in 2011-12.

The number of allegations against officers handling sexual assault and rape cases increased by 148 per cent to 206 referrals in 2016-17 – higher than the 130 per cent increase in reported crimes to the police.

Police chiefs last year asked the IOPC to look into 166 complaints about officer conduct in child sex abuse cases, including allegations that some were not investigated. There were 39 referrals in stalking cases in the same period. There were no complaints made to the body about the management of either of these types of crime in 2011-12.

The police handling of sexual assault cases has come under renewed attention after the Parole Board cleared serial sex attacker John Worboys’s for release from prison after he served nine years of an indefinite sentence.

The Metropolitan police has faced accusations of repeatedly failing Worboys’ victims. In 2010 the IPCC ruled that Worboys remain free because police officers made serious mistakes and failed to take victims seriously.

The overall number of referrals to the IOPC covering all types of crimes rose by 79 per cent over the same five-year period, after the watchdog criticised forces for attempting to deal with complaints internally.

Campaigners have warned that cases relating to domestic violence and sexual assault are particularly worrying because of the vulnerable nature of the victims.

They also said perpetrators of sexual attacks are likely to be repeat offenders, meaning failures in police investigations can lead to further attacks.

Concerns have also been raised about the lack of action taken against officers referred to the IOPC.

Of the hundreds of cases of alleged police misconduct in sex assault cases between 2011-12 and 2016-17, only 17 ended in sanctions for the individuals involved, freedom of information data reveals. Two of these officers were dismissed without notice, while three were given final written warnings.

In domestic abuse cases, 25 people faced sanctions over the same period, including 10 who were given written warnings. None of the officers accused of misconduct in domestic abuse cases were fired, the figures provided by the IOPC showed.

Lisa Longstaff, from Women Against Rape, said in her 30 years working with sexual assault victims, she had been “disgusted” by the low numbers of misconduct complaints that were upheld.

In cases where police officers abused their positions for sexual gain, this was particularly problematic, she said. “They don’t end up with a criminal record, they’re not convicted of rape, they don’t go on the sex offender’s register. And that has implications for future possibilities of abuse – getting jobs easily, working with other vulnerable people and possibly doing it again.

“Very occasionally they end up in court and get convicted, but mostly they get dealt with as a disciplinary matter. And that’s not acceptable. It effectively means they are above the law and that’s a very dangerous situation.”

Chief Constable Craig Guildford, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for complaints and misconduct, said the police were dealing with an increasing number of complex sexual offence cases.

“It is vital that we get our response to these right. We positively encourage people to report such offences and welcome the increased level of reporting which we recognise some people find incredibly difficult,” he said.

“We do everything possible to ensure that cases are investigated thoroughly, however, if somebody feels that this has not been the case, regardless of when it happened, it is absolutely right they seek an explanation and redress.

“Where a complaint is upheld we ensure that appropriate action is taken to address and learn from these failures.”

An IOPC spokesperson said: “Our independent investigations are both robust and thorough and where we find evidence of misconduct by officers we will refer our findings to the appropriate authority, or in the most serious cases the CPS.

“In just the last few weeks we have seen two officers charged by the CPS following an investigation in Essex and in Lancashire, a police officer was jailed for targeting vulnerable women. There are also many examples where we have directed forces to hold misconduct proceedings.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/police-officer-complaints-domestic-abuse-sexual-assault-cases-rise-watchdog-figures-a8214201.html

On the decision to release notorious serial sex offender John Warboys

MEDIA STATEMENT, by Women Against Rape 5 Jan 2017

There has been an outcry at the parole of Warboys after serving 10 years for 19 offences against 12 women. Yet the police say that other women had reported him, perhaps up to 100, but he is about to be released without being tried for these crimes.  Why didn’t the CPS take him back to court?  Will they do so now, or continue to let him get away with it?  If he asks for protection such as a new identity will the authorities continue to protect him?

The scandalous way this case has been handled is typical of how the criminal justice system protects violent men while dissing their victims – like the police officer who laughed in a woman’s face when she tried to report Warboys, the pattern of attacks that police did not connect for ages, his release on bail (when he committed 14 offences). One lawyer said her client’s evidence was so poorly gathered that the CPS could not take it to court. In a case like this the police seem to be committed to defending the rapist.

Safety and justice for the women he attacked and other potential victims has rarely been the priority.

Tragically this is not the only man who got off lightly for heavy and violent crime.  Serial rapists, child abusers, domestic murderers are routinely being let off to attack again – from the child abuse scandals in Rotherham and many other cities, to the murder of partners. Consider Theodore Johnson, who killed three partners, and Robert Trigg, who killed two partners and almost got away with claiming they were both accidental, except for an 8-year campaign by in-laws. Two women a week are killed by partners and former partners but stopping that terrorism which makes many more victims is never prioritised.

Some of Warboys’ victims sued the police for the refusal to properly investigate and won damages, but the police have appealed.  The judgement has not been released yet.  Can we expect them to get away again with this horrendous failing in their duty of care?

The government which is backing the police in their appeal against Warboys’ victims has also cut escape routes for women and children – from refuges to public housing to benefits.

Once again rapists will get the message: if you committed one of the 6.5 % of rapes that ended in conviction, you may feel unlucky, but need not feel guilty.

Child Rape in Rotherham: Questions rape survivors, parents and the general public want answers to

Submitted to the Home Affairs Committee on 9 September. We have received no substantial reply so far.

The Report by Dr Alexis Jay issued in August 2014, raises more questions than it answers. Unless these questions are asked and answered now, this will amount to a further cover up.

The Report says that over 1,400 girls suffered multiple crimes including: rape, child abduction, threats with guns, being given Class A drugs and alcohol, witness intimidation such as serious injury to themselves and other members of their families. The Report says no councillors or police in the area can say they didn’t know what was going on, following explicit reports by Risky Business to council meetings in 2004 and 2005 naming 50 perpetrators, including names of taxi firms, individual taxi drivers, and takeaways, and addresses where rape took place, yet no concerted action followed for years. Some interviewees told the Report writer they suspected family or business connections with taxi firms, takeaways and hotels where the girls were raped (as Risky Business explicitly named in their reports to Council meetings in 2004 & 5), but police said there was no evidence of this.

Prostitution has been used as an excuse to “blame” these rape victims as involved in “prostitution”, “a lifestyle choice”, being “not blameless”, “undeserving”. Many of these girls were well under 14 when the attacks started, they were victims of the crimes of rape and of paying to have sex with a child. Race and ethnicity were used as an excuse to justify the lack of action against the perpetrators. This presumes that the Pakistani community would stand with rapists rather than victims, which is a blatant piece of racism on the part of the police, the council, the MPs and social services. The Asian community was outraged at the perpetrators and the police and politicians’ protection of the perpetrators. It also presumes that there were no Asian victims; Asian women’s organisations have reported that this is not the case.

The gang rape of children was not investigated and victims were dismissed and even criminalised. This amounts to aiding and abetting rape and all the other violent crimes exposed in this report, which are going on not only in S Yorkshire but all over the UK.

Questions rape survivors and the public want answers to. Given the circumstances described in this report and what has come out from previous reports, it beggars belief that there has been no examination of possible connections, financial or otherwise, between the perpetrators and the police, politicians and social workers who covered for them. Not only all the officers, starting at the top, but all the local councillors and MPs (former MP for the area Denis MacShane was later jailed for fiddling his expenses) and the Home Office must be questioned, and charges brought against those who shielded, enabled, encouraged, organised, profited from or got promoted as a result of this violence against children and their families.

  1. Sex with a child under 13 is rape, there can be no defence of consent. Paying for sex with a child under 16 is illegal.
    Why are officers who claimed 12-year-old girls were compliant and consenting to sex with adult men still in the police force? Do they not know what a crime is? Do they not know the difference between the rape of children and sex between consenting adults? Do they not know that sex with a child is rape, and paying children for sex is not prostitution or a lifestyle choice, but rape? Why is the public paying police as law enforcers when they don’t apply the law?
  2. Police aided and abetted the widespread rape of children. This is a crime. Why have no officers been arrested and prosecuted for this? The Select Committee heard evidence in private from a Home Office researcher who feared for her life after two police officers visited her and threatened to pass her name to the groomers. Who were these officers and whose orders were they acting on?
  3. What other illegality are they engaged in or protecting?
  4. How was other reported rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and other child abuse dealt with while this was going on? How many rapes were no crimed? How many victims were pressurized into withdrawing or retracting their allegations? How many were even prosecuted for reporting rape on the pretext that they were lying?
  5. What are the police doing instead of protecting the public from rape, child abuse and murder?
  6. Victims were themselves charged and prosecuted. Loved ones who tried to protect them were dismissed and even arrested.
    Who are the officers who arrested the girls and their loved ones instead of their perpetrators? Will they be arrested and prosecuted for perverting the course of justice?
  7. Police provided no protection for the girls who came forward. Even worse they seem to have told the perpetrators about them.
    Which police officers leaked to a perpetrator that one girl was about to make a statement about him having broken her brother’s legs? How else would he know that his victim was at that moment in the police station? 
    This information enabled him to text her that he had abducted her 11 year old sister in order to intimidate her into not reporting. Why wasn’t he prosecuted for intimidating a witness – a serious crime?
  8. Dr Jay’s report says police disbelieved the first report as exaggerated: Were police asked why they disbelieved it? Were they asked to look into it anyway? Did they say they disbelieved it in order to ignore it?
  9. Why were police on the side of the criminals rather than their victims? Is it just prejudice against children, especially those in care? Or did they have something to gain?
    What is the relationship between the officers and these criminals? What did the police have to gain by not arresting them? Were officers paid or afforded favours to keep quiet about this? 
    A charity named one officer in written evidence to the Select Committee who was taking bribes from groomers in return for information. Is he being investigated? Are others? Were officers who allowed these rapes to continue promoted? How many?
  10. What is the connection of the officers, both those in charge or those on the ground, with the perpetrators? Was money passing hands?
  11. Some perpetrators were given cautions – meaning they admitted their crimes. Whose decision was it to give perpetrators a caution?
  12. Why have they not been rearrested for subsequent crimes and given a more appropriate punishment? Are the police claiming they have not done anything criminal since they were cautioned?
  13. Which of the so called ‘ring leaders’ have since been prosecuted and for what?
  14. Are those not deemed to be ‘ring leaders’ allowed to carry on with impunity or will they be prosecuted as well?
  15. Who allowed police and children’s services to dramatically reduce the number of girls being monitored, and why was nobody challenged about the tiny numbers of girls being identified as at risk of sexual exploitation?
  16. Have the ‘senior investigating police’ been asked to justify their ‘adamant’ refusal to link the alleged ‘honour killing’ of Child S with what they considered ‘totally unrelated …. other local violence against girls’? Who were the men she was said to have had sex with? Were they connected to the grooming of her sister or any of the other girls?
  17. Why didn’t Risky Business go public and alert the Home Office or a government body or go to the media to blow the racket open?
  18. The presumption is that the Asian community would stand with rapists against their victims, which is a blatant piece of racismAsian women’s organisations have said that Asian girls were also victims. How many? Did any come forward and were they treated any better than the white victims? Is this being investigated now?
  19. The presumption that criminals who are Asian are immune is not credible. How many Asian men were stopped and searched, much of it illegally, over this period?
  20. How much are senior officers determining the priorities for investigation of suspected crimes of their juniors and monitoring what was being done?
  21. Were any police whistleblowers punished or sacked for objecting to this cover up of illegality?
  22. Why didn’t the police know the difference between rape,  which is a crime, and prostitution among consenting adults which is not? How widespread is this gross ignorance among police forces?

Crown Prosecution Service

  1. The Report says that the employees of the CPS dealing with CSE before 2010 have now retired. Why should this prevent an investigation? Will they be arrested and questioned?
  2.  Why are prosecutors who protect criminals allowed to retire on a pension instead of a jail sentence? Will the connection between CPS and perpetrators, direct or indirect, be scrutinised now?
  3.  CPS closed many of the cases because ‘they used rape myths against the victims’. What is being done about this now? Will these cases be re-opened?
  4. Why did it take nine months in one case (as the Report says) for the CPS to make a decision to take no further action against one of the perpetrators? Will this case be re-opened now?

Police and Crime Commissioner

  1. He was aware of the scale of rape and other crime from at least 2005 as the Lead Member for Children and Young People (2005-2010).Why isn’t former South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright being investigated for criminal activities?

Rotherham council – a racket/mafia?

The Report says no councillors or police in the area can say they didn’t know what was going on. Risky Business reported on suspected family or business connections between politicians and perpetrators.

  1. The report refers to rumours that some councillors are related to some of the perpetrators. That is easy to establish. Which ones?
  2. The media has highlighted that ex Deputy Leader Jahangir Akhtar’s cousin was named in Jay’s report as a ‘boyfriend’ of up to 18 underage abuse victims. His son Tanveer is a constable serving in South Yorkshire Police. Cllr Shankat Asli has a relative serving 22 years in prison for flooding the area with ecstasy.  
    Are there others? What is the connection between councillors and perpetrators? Was money passing hands?  
  3. Did the police investigate these allegations? Is this being investigated now?
  4. Why were no minutes kept in 2005, when the present council leader [Roger Stone] chaired a group to ‘take forward’ the above issues raised by Risky Business? Is there no legal requirement to keep minutes of council meetings? Is he being investigated now?
  5. Council Leader in 2006 Roger Stone told a Tory councillor not to publicly raise concerns raised by his constituents about child exploitation, and that they were being dealt with by police. He has now resigned.Will his pension be withdrawn? Will he be investigated?

Social Services

  1. How can care workers not intervene and stop this mass rape? Isn’t the public paying them to care? Why didn’t they blow the whistle, for example say publicly that the refusal of police to prosecute sexual abuse of girls in their care is making their job impossible?
  2. Why are social workers now not demanding the prosecution of the rapists and the professionals who covered for them?
  3. Some girls have complained that their babies have been taken into care.Why are social services punitively removing babies from young vulnerable women rather than offering them the support and resources they need to care for their children?

Home Office

  1. Why when the HO was informed did no one take any action?

Children’s Charities

There are many big children’s charities in England: ChildLine, Barnardos, Save the Children, Children’s Society, National Children’s Bureau, Children in Need 

  1. Did they know? If not, why not? If yes, what did they do?If they didn’t do anything, why not?