26/04/2013

Shake-Up For Met Police Rape Unit

Metropolitan police teams that deal with rape and sexual assault cases are facing a shake-up.

According to the BBC, it is believed around 100 extra officers will be recruited as the investigators of rape, child abuse and sexual assault are merged into one department.

The Met is also said to be considering changing the name of the Sapphire rape teams.

The major reshuffling comes after a number of failed investigations. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) conducted nine inquiries into the force's handling of sexual assaults.

In February, it found a Sapphire unit in Southwark, southeast London, had "encouraged" rape victims to withdraw their allegations in order to boost detection rates.

Another case involving a woman who dropped a rape claim against a man, who then went on to murder his two children, launched a wider investigation into the work carried out by the Southwark unit between July 2008 and September 2009.

In an IPCC report, it said the rape allegation against the man had been dismissed by a detective sergeant based at Southwark, who said the circumstances did not constitute rape because the woman had "consented".

The watchdog said Southwark Sapphire unit's approach of "failing to believe victims" was "wholly inappropriate" and that the unit was "under-performing and over-stretched".

The watchdog has carried out five previous inquiries into Southwark Sapphire command.

It is thought the new structure will be in place from the summer with a new focus on tackling and solving sexual exploitation cases.

(JP/MH)

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