Report reveals more failures at Met Police sex crimes unit
12:34 26 February 2013
Officers at the Metropolitan Police’s notorious Sapphire Unit pressured a woman to drop a rape claim against a man who went on to murder his two children, a report has revealed.
Jean Say killed his son and daughter two years ago when they went to stay with him for a weekend.
But he earlier rape allegation against him was dismissed by a detective sergeant based in the Southwark-based unit who said the circumstances did not constitute rape because the woman “consented”, a report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission has shown.
The report outlined: “There is no doubt from the evidence that the woman made an allegation of rape at Walworth police station which should have been believed and thoroughly investigated.”
The case sparked a wider investigation into the work of the unit between July 2008 and September 2009, the results of which were published today.
It is the fifth into the Southwark Sapphire squad and the ninth into Scotland Yard’s handling of sex crimes.
The report found that the unit was “underperforming and overstretched” during the period in question.
Victims were pressured into giving retraction statements, which meant that the alleged crime had not taken place and boosted detection rates.
The report said victims were closely questioned by a detective constable before talking to a specialist officer.
This meant they were questioned repeatedly and went against standard practice that a victim should be believed in the first instance until evidence showed otherwise.
In a foreword to the report, Ms Glass said: “The approach of failing to believe victims in the first instance was wholly inappropriate.
“The pressure to meet targets as a measure of success, rather than focusing on the outcome for the victim, resulted in the police losing sight of what policing is about - protecting the public and deterring and detecting crime.
“The findings of our investigation into the rape reported in November 2008 were also deeply disturbing. The victim was failed by the people from whom she had sought help.
“Since 2009, when the unit came under central command, Sapphire has changed considerably and continues to evolve.
“But 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.”
This is the latest investigation into the handling of sex crimes by Scotland Yard.
The force has previously been criticised for failures over serial sex offenders sports coach Kirk Reid and taxi driver John Worboys.
In another case, Detective Constable Ryan Coleman-Farrow, who was based in Southwark, was jailed for 16 months in October last year for failing to investigate rape and sexual assault claims.
A second officer, based in Islington, is still under criminal investigation.
In total 19 officers from across London have been disciplined, including three who have been sacked.
However, it also emerged today that Scotland Yard has failed to bring gross misconduct proceedings against three officers involved in the Reid case.
The IPCC recommended that a superintendent and two inspectors should face gross misconduct proceedings.
In fact, the superintendent, who is now a Chief Superintendent, was given “words of advice”, an internal management procedure.
The detective chief inspector, who is now a superintendent, was given a written warning, as was the detective inspector, who remains at the same rank.
Football coach Reid was found guilty of stalking and preying on 25 women over 12 years in the Balham, Clapham and Tooting areas.
It emerged during his trial that police did not arrest him until four years after he was first named as a suspect and a separate IPCC inquiry was carried out into apparent blunders and failings.