The Metropolitan Police’s dubious record regarding rape victims with psychosocial disabilities

This is mainly a literature review of published reports and news articles which detail the Metropolitan Police’s failures mainly related to those with pyschosocial disabilities (PSDs)

In terms of the many reports on no-criming or CRIs (Crime Related Incidents), we must bear in mind the Betsy Stanko report as this shows a large percent of these no-crimes were victims with PSDs. Her groundbreaking report can be used as a measure of policing performance/attitudinal factors towards PSDs.

Each time we see reference to no-criming or CRI, we can be quite sure the potential exists that even more female victims who have PSDs been badly let down by the Metropolitan Police.

The research is by no means complete in what is clearly an extremely long list of failures, misdemeanors and acts of misconduct by the Metropolitan Police.

1985: following recommendations from the Women’s National Commission,  the MPS alleged it would make steps to ensure the attrition problem in rape was reduced and from that year would rape ONLY be ‘no crimed’ if these were shown to be false or malicious.

1986: A change in the previous (1985) assertion. The new line of reasoning for no criming would be  ‘substantial indications that the allegation is actually false’ (Policing Sexual Assault P9)

1991: Met Police seen as “reasonably efficient” diagnosticians “because of their experience in dealing with bizarre and odd behaviour”. (Bean & Mounser 1993/Nemitz1997) Surely this would mean that they understood better rape victims especially when they had additional issues like PSDs or learning disabilities?

1999: Most of the Met’s ‘no crime’ rape reports (57%) had been designated as such for other reasons than being false or malicious, and out of that 57% nearly half of those were linked to PSDs. Other disabilities were affected too as the researchers ‘also found that the attrition rate was “very high” where the complainant “had a learning disabilities, psychiatric problems or physical disabilities” (Harris and Grace, 1999/False Allegations of rape 2006 p 156) Clearly the MPS was no-criming PSDs and others long before any official acknowledgement.

As we will see in 2002, 2014, and other years ahead, the Met continued to no-crime rapes.

The MPS has continually made claims it works to bring justice for those who have been raped – especially those of PSD or even other disabilities.

During this period in time, several high profile cases began making their presence – Worboys for example – which completely threw out the many claims made by the MPS.

2002: During April the MPS glowingly basked in the fact it was “doing well” in many areas, including helping victims with PSDs (and other disabilities) in ensuring their perpetrators were brought to justice. Its publicity didnt reflect what was actually happening in practice, and this is not the first time this has happened.

2002: The Met’s first Haven Specialist Centre in Camberwell is seen at this time a trendsetter in the drive to aid rape victims and ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice. As this Guardian report says, SOIT (Sexual Offences Investigative Techniques) officers, front of desk staff in police stations and others were to receive training that would go a long way towards aiding the plight of rape victims.


The mysteriously secret Special Notice 2002 (11/02) held out the notion that the Met would invariably always believe rape victims. The following Special Notice 2002 excerpt is from Anna Raccoon’s blog:

Principle 1

It is the policy of the MPS to accept allegations made by any victim in the first instance as being truthful. An allegation will only be considered as falling short of a substantial allegation after a full and thorough investigation.

Special Notice 2002 was published at a most appropriate time – that is, the time when the Met Police began disbelieving a large number of rape victims who had psychosocial disabilities. Despite the Met Police’s assertions and its Special Notice 2002 policy directive, it is clear that at the present time of writing the force is still wracked by a culture of disbelief (as well as having errant Sapphire unit officers with a suspect agenda – their fabrication of evidence and falsification of victims’ or witness statements were a huge let down for many rape victims.)

2002: John Worboys began his regime of sexual terror as MPS CRIS/CRIMINT records indicate. This is at the time the MPS was beginning to compile its latest report on rape attitudes and establish two new Haven centres located in Paddington and Whitechapel – as well as provide more training for its officers.

Among the first victims Worboys raped were women with PSDs. As history has showed, the Metropolitan Police simply did not believe these victims and as a result John Worboys was free to rape even more women.

Worboys’ freedom from suspicion by the Metropolitan Police is known as the ‘decriminalisation of rape’ – in other words, rape was essentially allowed in deference of what the law said, and this was shown to be the case by the Met’s former advisor, Professor Elizabeth Stanko in 2014.

2002: Whilst the Worboys regime got underway, the Met police claimed they were aiming

“to deliver a high quality service to improve the trust and confidence of rape victims and demonstrate that the criminal justice system takes rape seriously.”

2003: SOIT training began in January as an extended format consisting of 10 days instead of the previous 7 days in 2002. The Met says SOIT officers have been trained in understanding disability and improving access to the criminal justice process.”

2005: SOIT Officers should ensure that those with disabilities are seen to appropriately deal with in terms of their needs etc as this extract from the MPS Standard Operating Procedure on Sapphire (redacted) shows:

2005: The poster that was bandied about by the Met in the later part of that year informed victims a strong arm of confidence was being lent and rape victims would really be taken seriously.

The Havens – A Met initiative to ease plight of rape victims

The reality for many victims was totally different as is evident from the various reports & investigations made during this period of time.

Worboys’s regime of terror had begun and Met Sapphire units were failing many victims – even disability – due to the dubious intents some Met officers harboured (including the force’s two Officer Ryans)

2006: SOIT offciers and Sapphire Investigators have been recommended to join special training days which involve direct input from disabled people.

2006: Brian Paddick the former Met chief complied a report on rape showing the Met’s failures. It was revealed at the Leeveson inquiry that the Met sought to remove this evidence. Paddick’s groundbreaking 2006 report has disappeared off the face of the earth despite numerous searches – obviously this was done to suppress information revelaing alarming rates of attrition in rape cases – see the FOI at What Do They Know.

All that remains of this report is a summary clearly edited to the Met’s liking found here

2008-09: The Soutwark Sapphire Unit conducted a series of no-criming rapes. This eventually became a major scandal and it was widely reported in the media. “the approach of failing to believe victims in the first instance was wholly inappropriate and went against the first principle of the MPS standard operating procedure: to believe the victim until evidence demonstrated otherwise.” (IPCC Southwark Sapphire Report 2013)

2008-09: Again we find the Met dumped quite a number of rape cases. This time there are clear disability stats and these are significant for this period. Out of 137 recorded rape cases involving a disability, 56 of those were no-crimed. These stats provided by the old Metropolitan Police Authority do indicate that disabled victims are more likely to have their cases no-crimed. (Met DSVB report 2009)

2009: The training courses (see 2006) for SOIT & Sapphire Investigators became mandatory. A new focus was placed upon improving communication with rape victims who had learning disabilities or PSDs.

2009: The Havens report that 14% of rape victims have a learning disability (Met DSVB report 2009)

2009: Sapphire unit moved under the Met’s Specialist Crime and Operations division. The Met claims the force is better placed to identify any wrongdoing by officers.

2010: A disabled woman is raped in public toilets. The Met Police failed to investigate her case and in 2014 the victim was awarded damages.

2010-11: Southwark Sapphire Unit is found to have conducted more misdeed including fabrication of evidence and dismissal of victims’ testimony. (See 2013)

2012: Stats for the Met were released and analysed. Once again it was found the Met simply did not believe women with PSD’s: 

their credibility is explicitly doubted by police officers in the majority of cases & that police officers are significantly more likely to judge such complainants to be uncooperative & difficult to contact.”

2012: Parliament showed the MPS does indeed discredit psychoscial victims of rape  by way of no-criming.

Plus ca change!

Source: House of Commons Oral Evidence – Crime Stats

Note: Recent years have seen it more widely acknowledged that women with PSDs, especially those with autism, are quite adept at covering up their disabilities, so there may well be further numbers of rape victims whose cases have been dropped simply because police did not believe them. It is certainly curious no-one has ever discussed this point so one worth considering and one which could show even more victims failed by the many dubious police practices.

2012: The Met say “For some victims a criminal justice outcome will not be the most appropriate course of action. So the MPS is working closely with partners to support victims of serious sexual offences. The MPS is systematically analysing victims’ feedback on their experiences to ensure consistency and levels of service are continually improved. Discussion would be welcomed on how to provide such assurance and measures of confidence.” (MOPAC letter dated 27 Sept 2012)

Its a very good assertion but sadly it is not borne out in practice.

2012: Women Against Rape commented in December the Met was continually moving the goalposts each time its mishaps were exposed:

2012: Brian Paddick, the former Met chief, claimed Met Police officers held a ‘she wants it really’ attitude…. no wonder the attrition rates were alarming! Paddick’s determination to show that the Met was still institutionalised in terms of negative attitudes towards women was reflected in the posters created for his bid to become Mayor of London:

Brian Paddick’s 2012 campaign to get the MPS to heed rape victims better

2013: The IPCC findings into the Southwark Sapphire Unit scandal are published. IPCC Deputy Chair Deborah Glass said: 

‘given the number of cases where the MPS’s response to victims has failed, either through individual officers’ criminality or neglect or more systemic problems of training, priorities and resources, the response that “lessons have been learned” begins to ring hollow….’ (IPCC 2013 Report into Working Practices at Southwark Sapphire Unit 2008-09)

It is important to heed the IPCC’s warning that the Met’s claims to have learned lessons have rung hollow. It indeed is the case.

The above report was the IPCC’s NINTH such investigation into the Met’s failures towards rape victims. Five of those focused on Sapphire.

The IPCC lists officer criminality amongst the many failures and this clearly alludes to DC Ryan Coleman-Farrow. This officer was jailed in October 2012 for his activities which included false statements and fabricated evidence. The Met’s secret investigation process known as Operation Homathko discovered yet another Sapphire officer’s illegal practices. This is DC Carl Ryan who was jailed in December 2015 for using false signatures to ‘verify’ fabricated witness statements and other things. He was described as a “a believable and manipulative liar”.

2013: Met stats show out of 172 female victims of disability hate crime from 2010 -2012, just two of those were attributed to sexual assault. This reflects the extremely low rates detected by the MPS especially with regards to disability and indeed those who have been raped. One can only imagine quite a few cases were no-crimed as usual.

2013: The celebrated case of DSD & NBV in the trial against the Met Police with regards to the force’s failures to stop Worboys was an opportunity for the judge to severely criticise the Met Police and admonish it for having not improved its act as detailed next:

As the judge pointed out, the Met Police had many failures with regards to training:

Clearly the Met had not got its house in order, despite assertions.

2014: The disabled victim who was raped in a public toilet (see 2010) wins damages of £11,000 and an apology from the Met. The force agreed to open a fresh investigation, and additionally it acknowledged the case was an opportunity for it to improve its officer training with regards to rape victims with disabilities.

2014: Parliament’s all important ‘Caught red-handed: Why we can’t count on Police Recorded Crime statistics’ report is a very revealing document. Whilst it records that the Met’s rates of no-criming had declined giving the impression more victims were being heeded, in actual reality many of these cases became CRI’s or Crime Related Incidents. In other words the designation as CRI’s meant rape cases to all purposes and intents were still being no-crimed.

The Met Commissioner Hogan-Howe was cross-examined by the Parliamentary committee in regards to the Met’s continued attempts to downgrade rape cases. Despite the committee having the full set of figures proving that no-crimed rapes had been moved under CRIs, the commissioner just seemed to want to avoid the issue completely on the downgrading of rape cases:

Many of the Met’s inquries are indeed whitewash jobs designed to ‘neither confirm or deny’ its numerous errors and cover-ups. This post by Undercover Research Group tells us exactly what the Met’s real agenda is.

2014: This is the year the Met’s ‘decriminalisation of rape’ was announced to the world. What it tells us essentially is that rapists had practically been given free rein to rape at will – especially those with psychosocial disabilities and autism:

The Met essentially became a rubber stamping authority for the permitting of rape against women, especially those with PSD’s and learning disabilities. Prof Stanko highlighted this rape ‘decriminalisation’ in her 2014 findings

“These women face almost unsurmountable obstacles to justice. Their rape is highly unlikely to carry a sanction, and in that sense, it is decriminalised.” 

2014: Bureau of Investigation releases report following Stanko’s findings on rape decriminalisation. The bureau says:

“some categories of the most vulnerable rape victims, such as those with learning difficulties, has effectively been decriminalised. This is because of investigating officers’ focus on the victim’s credibility, which is seen as vital to proving whether there was consent to sex.”

The following is from the Bureau’s pages on rape decriminalisation:

It is quite obvious one of the Worboys victims was a female with autism.

2015: A report by City University showed those with PSDs were three times more likely than others to have their rapes no-crimed. Clearly the Met were being “inappropriately influenced by stereotypes and prejudices about mental illness, and misconceptions regarding the impact of PSDs on victim perception, credibility and reliability…”

2015: The MOPAC Police & Crime Committee agreed the Met’s record on rape was very troubling. Some of the covnersation is replicated here. The committee’s Chair, Joanne McCartney AM said:

“it seems like there has over the years been review after review after review, perhaps not quite as comprehensive as the most recent independent review we have had from Dame Elish. We return, it appears, every few years to say, ‘That was recommended a few years ago and it still has not happened'”.

Dame Elish refers of course to Dame Elish Angiolini whose ground breaking Report of the Independent Review into The Investigation and Prosecution of Rape in London published in April examined the many faults with the Met Police in terms of rape investigation.

In view of that report, Jenny Jones AM, the committee’s Deputy Chair said: “We often find that we do very good reports, we make very good recommendations and the MPS does absolutely nothing about it”.

Jenny Jones AM further commented:

“A few of us as Assembly Members have sat around for the past 15 years trying to hold the MPS to account for the way that it has handled rape. I am just wondering if any year has been a good year or even adequate. I cannot remember one. It is almost as if we start from scratch every single time and that performance does not improve; it just changes, without improvement”.

2015: The MPS says it has radically reduced the number of no-crimed rapes. It says only five rape cases were no-crimed in 2014/15. Dame Elish Angiolini‘s findings however discovered the Met had put a lot of rape cases under a new category known as ‘no further action.’ No-criming had inded gone down radically but No further action had seen a substantial increase. And no-one was keeping track of how or why rape cases were being shifted under no further action.

The Met agreed the Angiolini report “shines an honest light” on their failings. See this BBC article.

2015: London MP Sadiq Khan says he is shocked at the findings made by Dame Angiolini:


2016: Article published by Telegraph reveals Met Commissioner Hogan-Howe asserted in the Met had directed (2002) that officers should “accept allegations made by the victim in the first instance as being truthful”.

In the same Telegraph article Hogan-Howe also cites a 2005 report which he says “called for a “culture of belief, support and respect” and pointed to a 2014 statement from HMIC: “The presumption that a victim should always be believed should be institutionalized”. 

2016: In contradiction to the claims made by Hogan-Howe, Sasha Barton & Joanna Fleck from Hodge, Jones & Allen’s Civil Liberties section, writing in January of this year say the Met’s ‘supervisory systems would not necessarily pick up on an officer who has concocted evidence to cover their tracks.’ Barton & Fleck add ‘there are likely others, falsifying evidence as they go, with devastating consequences for victims. Their crimes may take years to come to light, if ever.’ 

2016: News that the Met muddies the waters of victim integrity by way of its very policies of institutionalising belief. The Police watchdog says Hogan-Howe’s comments are misleading. See BBC & Guardian

As far as things go, it seems the Metropolitan Police’s record on rape is not going to be any better in 2016.

(updated 18 Feb 2016)

“Psychosocial disability is an internationally recognised term under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, used to describe the experience of people with impairments and participation restrictions related to mental health conditions.”

Psychosocial disabilities include affective disorder, bipolar, bulima, cognitive processes, learning difficulties, schozophrenia, mental health, social learning and so on. It can also include autism and other sensory disabilities where applicable. The list is not definitive.

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