SOSA demand proportionate payment for those abused at Shirley Oaks home

Image

BY TOBY PORTER

toby@slpmedia.co.uk

Historic child abuse victims are contemplating employing a top human rights lawyer after it emerged some of them will get the same compensation as people who were in care homes the same length of time but did not suffer abuse.

More than 400 victims of an organised paedophile ring within Lambeth’s children’s homes, going back as far as the 1950s, have now applied for payments under the town hall’s redress scheme.

But it has emerged in recent weeks that everyone who was placed in the homes for six months or more will get £10,000, whether or not they were victims of the ring.

Those who were just placed there for the same six-month period, but were not racially or sexually abused, will get the same £10,000 compensation.

Some people, who had previously been assessed as being entitled to, for example, £6,000 or £8,000 compensation for sexual or racial abuse they suffered, are not getting that extra compensation if they have already had their £10,000 payment for being in “harm’s way” – which anyone who was in the homes for more than six months is entitled to.

Some people assessed as entitled to £20,000, because of the abuse they suffered, are now getting another £10,000 on top of their £10,000 “Harm’s Way Payment” (HWP). But they are unhappy that they will not receive the £20,000 on top of the HWP.

… see more at 

The Rohingya women traumatised by mass rape

by Cristel Amiss of Black Women’s Rape Action Project & Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape. Published 17 March 2018 in Morning Star (see morningstar.online.co.uk)

A new report, Rape by Command published by Kaladan Press Network, documents mass violence against women and girls by the Myanmar military, in its 2017 purge of Rohingya people across northern Rakhine State.

We met Pippa Curwen, a human rights defender, who helped publish the research. She has been involved in life-saving work on the Thai-Myanmar (formerly Burma) border for over a decade.

The chief researcher of the report is lawyer Razia Sultana, a former teacher. She interviewed 36 survivors – 24 women and 12 men who had just arrived on the border with Bangladesh having fled for their lives.  They described the torture they had suffered and what they had seen inflicted on others – horrific crimes committed by the military during their August 2017 campaign to ethnically cleanse the northern Rakhine state where many Rohingya had lived.  Eight were rape survivors.

Sultana is from the region and this is the closest we have to the authentic voices of the Rohingya themselves, uncensored by the interpretations of outside observers or academics.

Sultana had recorded earlier witness evidence of atrocities in 2016. The Background chapter tells how the Myanmar government had refused visas to independent international investigators, instead installing its own “Rakhine Investigative Commission”, which did not report any instances of abuses during the whole 2016 military operations. This impunity gave a green light to atrocities on an even larger scale in 2017.

“Women and girls were raped, mutilated and killed for their very identity as Rohingya. Rape is being used as a weapon of genocide.”

Sultana documents testimony that hundreds of women and girls were gang-raped in front of their loved ones by groups of Myanmar soldiers as their homes were ransacked and destroyed.  Often, these rapes were accompanied by other horrific violence using knives, burning and other forms of torture.  Women and children were brutally attacked in their homes, while fleeing, and in military camps where they were held prisoner.
She notes that particular acts of mutilation of women’s breasts and genitals, indicate that the violence was the result of a directive, rather than individual soldiers’ actions.  Atrocities were authorised by the military and the border police which systematically cleared Rohingya communities from the countryside and towns, razing their homes, leaving only non-Muslim villages intact.  They aimed to extinguish the very existence of the Rohingya.

As an immediate precursor to violence targeting women and children, Myanmar troops invaded the villages, rounding up men and boys for arrest, torturing and killing, often using allegations of “terrorism”. This left women and children alone and vulnerable and paved the way for mass rape.

Given the systematic organisation of the military raids, with were co-ordinated by the armed forces from the sea, air and on land, the report concludes that war crimes have been committed.  It calls for the military leaders at the highest level to be held responsible.

Myanmar has so far blocked any independent UN fact-finding investigation.  This is being used as a pretext for some governments to take no action at all, and to carry on supporting investments with the excuse that they are waiting for an official UN report.
The country’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to mention the Rohingya to the outrage of people around the world who supported her when she was under house arrest.  Some experts have avoided acknowledging that this mass rape and murder is genocide.

As anti-rape organisations with over 60 years of combined experience of working with survivors of rape, including historic child and domestic abuse in the UK, we know how hard it is to get justice.  Some of us have fled to the UK after suffering rape and torture by military or others in authority.  Our collective self-help with survivors, and our attempts to hold their attackers to account, addresses the trauma of rape, of witnessing loved ones killed, and the many barriers to recovery faced by victims of sexual and racist/Islamophobic crimes. These are compounded by losing your home and/or becoming a refugee.

There are now 900,000 Rohingya in the camps of Bangladesh who need our support and action. Rape by Command calls for:

  • Holding the military to account for systematic rape and other violence against civilian women and children. No impunity for the Myanmar military!
  • A place of safety for all the refugees to settle and rebuild their lives. They must not be forced back to Myanmar.  The majority who want ultimately to return must be guaranteed rights and safety.

The Sisters of Rohingya are demanding sanctions against Myanmar, not just military sanctions, and an end to foreign investment.  On International Women’s Day, 8 March, we joined a large and lively picket outside Unilever HQ, London, calling for the company to divest from Myanmar.


Unilever is one of the biggest foreign investors in the region, annually investing $667m.  It claims to respect the dignity and rights of women and girls, especially in its marketing of Dove products, and has been named “Impact Champion” by UN Women.  It’s time it put this into practice by withdrawing from Myanmar instead of enhancing the funds available to the military government.

The Unilever protesters handed in a letter to Chief Executive Paul Polman (who was paid £9.4m in 2015) urging him to divest.  The international movement against sexual violence, from Hollywood to #MeToo and Time’sUp, must be extended to the Rohingyas – women, children and men.

Corporations must be forced to put life before profit and to stop funding rape and genocide.  We are all sisters and brothers of Rohingya.

Cristel Amiss is a member the Black Women’s Rape Action Project and Lisa Longstaff is a member of Women Against Rape.

You can support the campaign by using the hashtags  #No Peace  #No Dove
For more information please email bwrap@rapeaction.net; follow @bwrap1; or email war@womenagainstrape.net ; follow @AgainstRape; or visit the Sisters of Rohingya blog sistersofrohingya.wordpress.com. You can see the full report Rape by Command at: www.kaladanpress.org

UPDATE: Yarl’s Wood Hunger Strike: “They’re trying to break us down”

STOP PRESS:  Emergency Demo Solidarity with Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers
4-5pm, Wed 28 Feb, outside the Home Office, Marsham Street, SW1P 4DF.
Called by Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants: co-hosted with All African Women’s Group, Black Women’s Rape Action Project, Docs Not Cops, End Deportations, Right to Remain, SOAS Detainee Support, The London Latinxs, and others

Update:  Yarl’s Wood Hunger Strike . . .  for immediate release

They’re trying to break us down but we’re not about to give in to them or their threats

“Theresa” currently on hunger strike told us that they are being denied the right to fax statements about their conditions and demands.  She said “we are about 20 women and 14 men taking complete hunger strike . . .  yesterday our statement was confiscated by an officer called Claire. Today we tried to send faxes of our demands from [the] health care [area] where we are holding a silent protest.  After we faxed, 2 officers came following us and tried to take our papers away . . . I refused to give them – tell the director to come pick them from me himself.”

Theresa says that threats have been made by the director Steven Hewer to take “trouble –makers” to prison – “protesters are being called to the Home Office one by one, supposedly to address our demands but instead they are updating people on their individual cases. . . our protest is a peaceful quiet one and we don’t appreciate having the threat of HMP prisons directed at us”.

Over and over again women protesting in Yarl’s Wood have been targeted for punishment– and the same goes for protesters against detention around the world.  See our sister Maru who has been targeted for deportation in the US.

From mothers threatened with being deported without their children to rape survivors who haven’t been able to speak about what they suffered in the “hostile environment” in which asylum claims are considered, women in Yarl’s Wood face removal without having had a fair hearing.  Sexism, racism and other discrimination result in the Home Office routinely refusing to believe women, flouting its own instructions about how it should treat “Gender Issues in the Asylum Claim”.  Legal aid cuts deprive women of legal representation and advice, and vital evidence to pursue appeals, instead judges “rubber stamp” Home Office refusals flouting their own guidance on how they should treat “vulnerable witnesses”.  Their cases having been unjustly closed, women face destitution, detention and deportation.

All African Women’s Group, Black Women’s Rape Action Project and Women Against Rape support the hunger strikers who are demanding:

  1. Shorter bail request periods [quicker bail hearings]
    2. Amnesty for those who have lived in the UK 10 years and above
  2. End indefinite detention
  3. End Charter flights
    5. No more re-detention
    6. End systematic torture in Yarl’s Wood
    7. Stop separating families
    8. No detention of people who came to the UK as children
    9. The beds need to be changed
    10. LGBT+ persons’ sexuality be believed
    11. Fit emergency alarms in every room in the detention centre
    12. Give us access to proper healthcare
  4. Give us proper food to look after our diets
  5. Release people with outstanding applications
  6. We want to speak to Alistair Burt MP for the constituency

We also call for:

  • An end to detention; immediately release mothers and children, pregnant women, survivors of rape and other torture, people who are mentally or physically sick and other vulnerable people.
  • An independent investigation into claims of rape and other sexual abuse against women held in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre
  • Reinstate legal aid for all asylum and immigration cases to ensure women and men get a chance of a fair hearing against the Home Office’s racism, sexism and determination to deport no matter how unjustly.
  • An official investigation into what happens to people who are deported, including those deported from the unlawful Detained Fast Track, so that they can get the help they need.
  • No NGO collaboration with, and promotion of, so-called “voluntary” and “family returns”, and any other government processes that depend on injustice, destitution, detention and forced deportations to drive asylum seekers out.
  • Close down Yarl’s Wood and detention centres everywhere!

Those in detention have the right to be here. Those of us on hunger strike have the right to be here: count the contribution that African and other third world people have made over hundreds of years to the wealth in the UK.

Some recent press coverage:

100 Immigrant Women Are on Hunger Strike at a Notorious UK Detention Center
https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/8xdkyz/yarls-wood-detention-centre-hunger-strike-sit-in

Yarl’s Wood female hunger striker facing deportation tomorrow
https://freedomnews.org.uk/yarls-wood-female-hunger-striker-facing-deportation-tomorrow/

Cristel Amiss, Black Women’s Rape Action Project on Yarl’s Wood hunger strike
https://youtu.be/tmfxL8iIoqo

Supreme Court today: rape victims vs Theresa May and police

Featured

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

Rape & Sexual Abuse in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre

Rape & Sexual Abuse in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre  

Our report chronicles a regime of predatory sexual abuse (including racist sexual abuse) since it opened and began accepting women and families in 2002.  It brings together the many allegations that have been reported to us, with other reports that have appeared in the media.  Many of the reports come from All African Women’s Group members some of whom have been centrally involved in protests including successive hunger strikes .

Police pay compensation in precedent rape claim

PRESS RELEASE

A landmark civil suit was settled on recently with the Metropolitan police paying £15,000 damages to a woman whose rape when she was 15 was badly mishandled by a police Sapphire Team in Southwark, London. With the scandals in the news of scores of girls raped over years in Rochdale, Rotherham and by Jimmy Savile (and possibly his associates), this case puts the spotlight on the flagship Sapphire Rape Units.

Their response so far is not encouraging. Every time they have been exposed mishandling rape investigations, they have claimed that the units had been restructured and cases like this could not happen again. But they continue to happen. When asked this morning on the Today programme why then the conviction rate for reported rape remained so low, Sapphire’s head DCI Mick Duthie said that 40% of women who report rape to the Met don’t want to prosecute. This is not our experience and is given the lie by the figures. All the women who come to us wanted justice and were prevented from getting it. The Met closes over half the reported rapes, and the CPS closes a further 40% of the rest – all decisions made against victims’ wishes.

This precedent claim is based on the Human Rights Act (Articles 3 and 8) and overturns decades of legal obstruction which has prevented victims of rape from suing the police for negligent investigations. The persistence of a mother campaigning with Women Against Rape and legally represented, has opened the way for other victims of crime to hold the police to account for ineffective investigations. On the basis of this claim and what was established here, others will now hopefully be encouraged to make their case.

Commenting on the settlement, the girl’s mother said:

“The police thought we were going to give up, and unless you fight all the way, they will intimidate you and smash you down with their enormous power and resources. But we were determined to win, for my daughter and all the other girls who have been denied justice. Why should victims who are let down have to go through this?”

“The settlement is not all we wanted, but we have won a lot along the way. We got four officers disciplined. We got a personal written apology from Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions. We got some compensation. But the most senior officer DCI Chambers was never held accountable for his actions. The trial judge criticised the police investigation and referred to non investigated issues as a disgrace. After the complaint investigation, a High Court judge said, ‘…It is reasonable to suspect that had the matter been investigated properly and the corroborative evidence obtained, the result might well have been different.’ This case has shown that the problem is not merely the ‘canteen culture’ at the lowest ranks, but the de-prioritising of rape organised from the top.”

The rape of the 15-year-old by a 28-year-old man took place in 2005. Despite the police having the attacker’s address, his vehicle registration and mobile number, it took three months of pressure by the girl’s mother, and another girl reporting the same man for rape, before he was finally arrested.

But that was not the end of the carelessness Ms X and her daughter suffered. At trial in 2006 it became clear that: the police had not interviewed potential witnesses and had lost crucial phone evidence which would have undermined the Defendant’s account. Not surprisingly, the jury did not convict, leaving the victim and her family shattered.

The man walked free and the girl’s mother contacted WAR, and soon became part of a team campaigning for justice.

Arrangements were made to speak to the media and meet both the local MP and the Borough Commander. This sparked an internal investigation by the head of the Central Sapphire Team, which found that the rape investigation had been wanting, and listed the following “mistakes”:

• “A serious stranger rape attack allocated to a PC [not a detective] to investigate.
• Failure to identify the link between the crime scene and the suspect’s vehicle.
• Failure to visit the crime scene at the earliest opportunity.
• Failure to identify the suspect and arrest at the earliest opportunity.
• Failure to properly investigate the allegation thoroughly and expeditiously, with particular emphasis on the failure to obtain correct telephone records.
• Failure to properly and effectively supervise the investigation.”

This report was not disclosed to the victim and her family until 2012, after a lengthy legal battle. Not satisfied with an apology that did not even offer any explanations, a formal complaint was lodged to the IPCC. Under pressure from the victim, her mother, Women Against Rape, and the victim’s lawyer Debaleena Dasgupta, the IPCC issued an unusually thorough and damning report in 2009. It revealed that:

• The Southwark Sapphire Rape Unit was systematically starved of resources, while resources were diverted to motor crime and robbery. At some points, the Unit was functioning without any trained detectives.

• The Unit left hundreds of rapes and sexual assaults to untrained, unqualified officers. The main officer on this case was a PC who had just joined the unit from Safer Neighbourhoods work. The PC was expected to handle over 30 cases at one time, an overwhelming number, with little or no training or supervision, and no experience of detective work.

• Officers (in this case women) who tried to get rape taken seriously and asked for more resources were rebuffed and blocked at every turn by their (male) superiors.

• Just weeks before, two of the officers in this complaint had been the subject of a complaint on another rape case in which they evaded discipline.

The IPCC report makes clear that the most junior officer struggled under an impossible workload; and while four officers were disciplined, it blames the man in charge the then Deputy Borough Commander DCI Chambers, who set the priorities and starved the Unit of resources could not be disciplined. DCI Chambers was able to refuse to be interviewed, and instead prepared a 37-page statement denying responsibility, retire from the Metropolitan Police and swiftly move to another position – at the Centre for Policing Excellence!

The girl’s mother said, “The police have been vicious in fighting our civil claim, and they fought dirty. I had to listen to them in court and felt that they were insinuating that my daughter hadn’t been raped. And when that didn’t work, they tried to minimise how ill their actions had made her – largely because of the additional trauma of being refused justice after the rape and of our family having to fight over years to get the truth disclosed. My daughter’s life has been destroyed, my 30-year marriage has ended under the stress. These injustices affect whole families and communities, and no amount of money can compensate for our loss. Do the police care? Does the Home Office care?

“This has never been about money. We wanted a declaration that my daughter’s human rights had been breached, an admission which would help to other women and girls. We were ready to go all the way to court to get it, but we were forced to settle because of costs risks – we don’t have the huge resources the police have. Working with WAR I see similar cases coming through our door all the time, so they can’t tell me this is all in the past. Victims are dismissed and ignored, especially children and teenagers. Those officers who want to do their job and complain about lack of support within the force also face obstacles.

“This case proves that the police, even when they admit mistakes, will spend lots of public money to stop victims getting justice.”

As Lisa Longstaff of WAR points out, “They keep saying that everything has changed, but these cases – from Rochdale to Southwark, from Saville to Coleman-Farrow[1] – are a continual reminder of what the police policy on rape is in practice. For many, many women, children and families, it is not just that victims are disbelieved but, believed or not, that they face at best carelessness and at worst a complete refusal by police to properly investigate rape. . There is much PR about reporting but in reality children are treated as if they are supposed to be sexually available and keep their mouth shut.”

The claimant in the case said, “I think the police really believed me, but they really didn’t care.”

13 December 2012

For interviews contact:
Women Against Rape at 020 7482 2496, or war@womenagainstrape.net

________________________________________
[1] Sapphire Detective Constable Ryan Coleman-Farrow was convicted of falsifying rape records and closing cases of at least 12 survivors of rape recently.

Savile, Rochdale, Wales, Jersey . . . Justice this time? Or more ‘lessons’ in how to get away with rape?

Complicity followed by incompetence in the Savile case landed the BBC in deep waters, to the delight of those who wish to undermine public broadcasting and to the chagrin of the taxpayer who foots the bill.

But let’s not take our eye off the ball and forget all those others who are culpable. Eileen Fairweather is right to be sceptical of Home Secretary Theresa May’s inquiry into North Wales care homes; and Tom Watson MP has already dismissed it as “the next stage of a cover-up”.  As Keith Gregory, one of the survivors, pointed out: “It’s police investigating police and a judge investigating a judge. Will it be any different or do they all stick together?”

From Bloody Sunday to Steven Lawrence to Hillsborough, it is not inquiries but the determination of families and survivors which finally won the truth out, and some convictions.

Years of ignoring the crimes of Jimmy Savile – and related allegations of child abuse (i.e. rape, sexual assault and other violence against children) from Jersey to North Wales – prove that the priority was not to prevent or even stop the rapes, but to shield the criminal and his connections in high places so as not to disturb the status quo.

It is now clear that Savile’s criminality was well known. Former West Yorkshire Police detective John Stainthorpe said that Savile was one of the suspects put forward by the public in the Yorkshire Ripper case, and that the person who gave police the anonymous tip-off was ”aiming in the right direction . . . Child perverts soon become child killers.”

Former Radio 1 DJ Paul Gambaccini whose BBC studio was next door to Savile’s, said that he targeted not only children but children who were “institutionalised, hospitalised”. From Leeds General Infirmary, Stoke Mandeville Hospital and the high-security psychiatric Broadmoor Hospital, there seem to have been nurses and others who witnessed Savile assault patients who were brain-damaged or recovering from an operation; some were told to pretend to be asleep when Savile visited so he wouldn’t interfere with them.

But only a few in positions of authority spoke out and are speaking out today. Alison Taylor, head of a home in Gwynedd, demanded action against the violence children from Nefyn Dodd and other homes were reporting to her. It took dedication and persistence: “The pattern seemed to be that if I made a complaint then something would happen to me – it was like having a sniper behind the wall.” She was suspended in January 1987. In 2000 the Waterhouse Inquiry into the North Wales sex crimes finally admitted that without Taylor there would not have been an inquiry and that “in general terms, she has been vindicated”. John Allen, head of the Bryn Alyn home, and deputy head Peter Howarth, were jailed.

But those who came in the “posh chauffeur driven cars” are still at large. In 1994 Clwyd County Council commissioned a report which stated that “At least 12 young people are dead [most of them having committed suicide] …” Will those who drove them to suicide finally be convicted? The report was never published; although copies were said to have been pulped, some have been found in the Council’s archives. Will it now see the light of day? Or will fear of lawsuits, such as those initiated by Lord MacAlpine after being wrongly accused of child abuse, be used as an excuse to censor the truth once more?

That many institutions gave Savile (and how many others connected and not connected to him?) free rein to assault the children in their care is shocking but not new. Many similar allegations have been made before. All should be reopened: not only Wales but Jersey. Police chief Graham Power claimed that politicians had interfered with the police investigation into the rape and even the deaths of children at Haut de la Garenne, and “closed ranks” with civil servants. He was suspended in what one politician called “a coup d’état”.  The investigation was closed, the authorities eventually accepted they had failed some children “in a serious way”, and paid compensation to about 90 victims. But only eight out of 151 named abusers were prosecuted.

It augurs badly for the present inquiries that some charities seem to be turning the Savile scandal into a bid for funding rather than for justice and change. Yet charities, schools and hospitals did not defend victims from Savile – he was raising money for them! A former Children in Need chairman said they barred Savile from their charity. But unlike Alison Taylor they didn’t take as their brief to stop him.

Charities have written to the government offering to counsel Savile’s victims, but we don’t hear them pressing for justice or compensation. Counselling does not stop rape; it may help victims but it also puts the onus on them to “get over it”. Can you “move on” knowing your attackers are free to attack others? Rape victims go through the trauma of reporting to get recognition and to protect others – their fight for justice is a public service. And we know from experience that winning justice is the best healer.

Why is that so much to ask? The problem is not just that rape victims aren’t believed, some are. But believed or not, they are dismissed. Karin Ward, one of Savile’s BBC victims and a former resident at Duncroft school for girls, where Savile was allowed to roam, said that she sensed “That’s what we were for.” (Panorama 22 October 2012) Duncroft’s retired head Margaret Jones dismissed the claims of her former pupils as “wild allegations by well-known delinquents.”  They were, after all, only plebs.

The same happened more recently in Rochdale, where girls from working class backgrounds were raped for years despite repeatedly reporting to police and social services. One desperate mother put her daughter in care for protection after the police refused to act – the violence only increased. While some of the rapists have been convicted, what about those police, social workers and others in positions of authority who allowed it to go on? Are they not just as culpable? Police claimed they didn’t arrest the men, who happen to be men of colour, because they were worried they would be accused of racism. Yet they have no qualms carrying out thousands of stop and search on men of colour who haven’t been accused of anything. And why was the head of social services able to resign without facing charges?

Something akin happens to asylum seekers at our Women’s Centre. Having fled rape and murder many are refused protection and reduced to destitution, again easy prey to rapists. Raped again in Britain they cannot afford to report for fear of deportation. One woman who reported after winning the right to stay was initially dismissed – police assumed they didn’t need to bother as she wouldn’t be in Britain for long.

If the welfare cap and cuts limiting child benefits to the first two children go through, many more women and children will face similar destitution, unable to feed our children (one in five mothers is already skipping meals to feed hers) or to leave violent relationships; more children will be taken into care or foster homes. We now know what happens to the unprotected – children with least social power are considered to be sexually available and disposable. Does the government care that their cuts undermine women’s and children’s ability to escape rape, or is that part of the policy’s attraction?

Getting justice for victims and stopping cuts that would add to vulnerability, could begin to stop this rape cancer at the heart of the establishment. It would encourage those police and social workers who want to act against rape rather than those who back it. We want to know: Who knew? What did they know? When did they know it? Whom did they tell? How many individuals and institutions were involved in covering up what crimes? We want “lessons to be learnt” – by rapists and their associates being arrested, prosecuted and convicted. Without justice the only lesson ever learnt is how to get away with it.

Former Met police officer admits failing to investigate rape cases

Ryan Coleman-Farrow faked police reports, failed to pass on evidence and falsely claimed to have interviewed suspects
Share 150

Sandra Laville, crime correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 12 September 2012 14.51 BST

An investigator from the Metropolitan police specialist sex crimes unit has admitted failing to investigate the alleged rapes and sexual assaults of 12 women by faking police reports, failing to pass on forensic evidence and not interviewing suspects.

The activities of detective constable Ryan Coleman-Farrow – who pleaded guilty to 13 counts of misconduct in public office on Wednesday – focus attention once more on Scotland Yard’s sapphire unit, which is supposed to be the gold standard for rape investigations across the country. Coleman-Farrow’s omissions in 13 rape and sexual assault investigations over three years have left 11 men suspected of rape and sexual assault at large, and his misconduct means the cases are “incapable of full and proper investigation” and will always remain unsolved.

His case was one of four major investigations into the unit by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which is due to publish a report on Sapphire in the autumn.

It emerged in court that over the time he was involved in investigating rape cases Coleman-Farrow was ill and, according to the judge, the recorder of Westminster Alistair McCreath, he was not looked after properly.

However, the IPCC, which carried out an independent inquiry into Coleman-Farrow after concerns were raised in 2010 about his performance, said their investigations had not found any supervisory failings within the Met police. They will publish their full report on 11 October when Coleman-Farrow is sentenced.

Coleman-Farrow, 30, who was dismissed from the Met police in April last year, stood in the dock at Southwark crown court to answer his name, and pleaded guilty to 13 charges of misconduct in public office by wilfully engaging in conduct amounting to an abuse of public trust between January 2007 and September 2010 when he was working at the Sapphire unit in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. The cases he failed to investigate, the court heard, involved 10 rape cases and three sexual assaults and included inquiries he carried out after Scotland Yard’s radical overhaul of Sapphire following a series of scandals involving serial rapists who were not investigated.

Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, said: “The case involves investigations by this defendant, a serving police officer, into allegations of sexual offending.

“The indictment alleges against him 13 offences of misconduct in relation to each of the 13 investigations carried out.

“Behind the evidence stand 12 complainants and 11 suspects in total.

“In almost all cases no proceedings resulted and certainly no conclusion adverse to anyone was ever reached.”

The court heard that Coleman-Farrow repeatedly made false entries on the police computer to report that the Crown Prosecution Service had advised no further action in cases. He also failed to view CCTV footage on a number of occasions, failed to submit forensic evidence for analysis, lied about taking a statement from a victim, falsely claimed one victim had withdrawn support for a prosecution, falsely claimed to have interviewed suspects when he had not, falsified a witness statement and failed to interview key witnesses.

Heywood said a thick line had now been drawn by the Met police under all 13 investigations as a result of the failures by the officer. He said: “There is now no prospect of these matters being progressed in any further respect.”

Coleman-Farrow’s activities first emerged in 2010 when the CPS became concerned that information and evidence from cases he was involved in were not being passed to them. In September of that year two sex workers – Jaime Perlman, 37, and Riley Lison-Taylor, 33 – gassed themselves to death in a suicide pact at a flat in Putney, south London and left notes which accused the Metropolitan police of not properly investigating their complaints against clients who had stalked them.

During the internal inquiry following their deaths Coleman-Farrow’s name came up again as an officer who was involved in investigating Perlman’s stalking allegations in 2009. Coleman-Farrow was cleared of the allegations made by Perlman, but after an independent inquiry by the IPCC he was charged with the 13 misconduct counts relating to other cases.

It is understood the officer was interviewed four times during the IPCC investigation and said that he had been suffering from cancer during the period they were investigating.

The court heard on Wednesday that his ill health would be key to the court assessing his culpability. Heywood said that issue was likely to be common ground between the prosecution and defence. He said a significant part of the offending took place between September 2009 and September 2010 and the relationship between his conduct then and his health at that time was an important factor.

The judge gave the former officer bail before sentencing on 11 October.

A spokeswoman for Women Against Rape said: “This is a very serious case, because at least 12 victims have been denied justice and at least 11 rapists have received impunity as a direct result of this man’s actions.

“Every single case this specialist officer has been involved in should be reviewed.”

The IPCC said Coleman-Farrow appeared to be a “rogue” officer and they did not identify supervisory failing. However, another officer from Sapphire is currently under investigation by the IPCC for similar offences of falsifying records to suggest cases were closed when they were not.

The deputy chair of the IPCC, Deborah Glass, said: “Ryan Coleman-Farrow was entrusted to investigate serious sexual offences and support some of the most vulnerable people in the criminal justice system. He let them down by his calculated abuse of their trust. His actions are beyond belief.

“The MPS [Metropolitan police service] have told us they reviewed all cases where Mr Coleman-Farrow was officer in charge and I understand that, where cases required further or re-investigation, this has been done.

“Our investigation did not reveal systemic or serious supervisory failings … While dealing with rogue individuals must always be a concern in any system, supervisory systems will not necessarily pick up on an officer who has concocted evidence to cover their tracks.”