Handling of rape cases in London must be 'drastically improved'

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Handling of rape cases in London must be 'drastically improved'
10th June 2014

The way rape is investigated in the capital has to be drastically improved, according to Britain’s most senior police officer.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said investigators are failing to treat victims with enough sensitivity and empathy. 

He said: “For a while, I've been concerned about how we, the police, approach and deal with sexual offences," he said today.

"There is some evidence we need to drastically improve how we deal with criminal investigations into rape.”

In announcing an independent review of the way rape claims are dealt with, Sir Bernard added although the process has improved over the last two decades, more than 80 per cent of victims of sexual offences do not come forward. 

Of those who do, four in five are vulnerable because of factors such as drink, drugs or psychiatric illness. 

Last month the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that there were 2,300 rape convictions in 2013, down from 2,433 in 2010, while 129 fewer rape suspects were convicted in 2013 than in 2012.

In the last year the number of completed prosecutions and convictions has increased, the CPS has said, but the conviction rate has dropped from 63.2 per cent in 2012-13 to 60.3 per cent in 2013-14.

The review is set to be published at the end of February 2015 and will be looking to achieve a series of recommendations. 

The review forms one strand of the wider national action plan announced last week by National Policing Lead for Adult Sex Offences Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt and Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders following the work of a rape scrutiny panel to consider the fall in referrals from police to CPS.

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