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The police officer in charge of investigating alleged rapes and sex assaults in London has described the last year’s fall in reports as a big concern.

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Detectives are now being specially trained as sexual offences investigation officers to more effectively deal with complaints in an effort to stem the drop.

A scheme will be also piloted in north London whereby victims will be referred straight to rape crisis centres rather having to wait weeks for assistance after going to the police.

Speaking to the London Assembly’s police and crime committee at City Hall today, Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Duthie, head of the Met’s Sapphire Command, said the drop in reports was in line with national trends.

He said: “It is a big concern to me and the Met in general, we are trying to understand why this has happened.

“There has been a 10 per cent reduction in reported rapes, and in the financial year to date it is a 15 per cent reduction. We are doing some work to see how and why this has happened.”

Meetings are now being held “every two to three months” with women’s groups such as Rape Crisis to identify areas of concern for sex assault victims and to address problems faced by ethnic minorities and the gay and lesbian community.

DCS Duthie added there were 555 charges relating to sex offences last year amid efforts to raise the sanction detection rate.

He said: “At the moment we have had problems that some of the investigations have taken too long.”

Referring to the conviction of ex-Met Police detective Ryan Coleman Farrow, who was jailed last month for failing to properly investigate rape and sex assault cases, DCS Duthie said officers dealing with complaints will be “closely monitored”.

He added: “We have increased the level of supervision of staff (and have), are more intrusive implemented a more robust framework to make sure staff know what they are doing.”

Yvonne Trainer, from Rape Crisis, told the committee she was surprised by the drop in reports but was satisfied by the Met’s attempts to include them in the process.

She said: “We carried out some research last year with the service to find out if they hadn’t reported, and why they hadn’t reported and it was quite an interesting discovery.

“The reason was not because they didn’t wasnt to speak to police. The (issue) was that that they would have to talk to someone about something that was so intensely personal.”

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