Report 10 of the 13 October 2011 meeting of the Strategic and Operational Policing Committee, summarises the results of detailed analysis undertaken following the first year of the Rape and serious Sexual Offences Command, SCD2 (Sapphire), identifying the reasons for the increased levels of reported serious sexual offences in London since 2008-09.
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Specialist Crime Directorate 2: serious sexual offences review
Date: 13 October 2011
By: Assistant Commissioner Specialist Crime on behalf of the Commissioner
A detailed analysis was undertaken after the first year of Sapphire’s inception in order to identify the reasons for the increased levels of reported serious sexual offences in London since 2008-9 and to compare London to National trends.
This analysis supported the initial assessment that there had been no identified increase in actual sexual offending in London, but that MPS organisational changes and process improvements had had a combined effect of greater compliance with national crime recording standards, more effective identification of crimes and their recording, enhanced reporting by third parties about their concerns for the safety of children, together with more individuals coming forward to report crimes.
Now 12 months further on and the reported crime level is still increasing as predicted, at a lower rate than in the first 12 months. The greatest increase is of crimes where all those involved are in or have been in a relationship. True stranger offences account for less of the total amount of crimes than in the past, at 7% of SCD2 offences compared to 9% in 2008/9, with the highest number of stranger offences taking place on Central region.
The investigation of rape remains complex with many contributory factors making the prospect of judicial recourse impossible. The rules of evidence regarding the defence of ‘consent’ when over 60% of allegations take place in private, and the reliability of victims where over 80% have at least one identified vulnerability in their lives, is reducing the likelihood of investigations reaching the necessary evidential test. The number of cases charged by the CPS remains lower than pre SCD2 and is reducing, but the percentage of charged cases that do subsequently reach trial has risen. More victims are receiving a consistently high level of service and support from experienced trained officers and specialist agencies. The service offered by the MPS to victims is of a very high standard and their feedback is consistently positive. The extent and detail of our intelligence-gathering about suspects is greatly improved and is leading to more opportunities for wider public protection activities across the MPS.
One major change from last year is the introduction of the Complex Case Team to SCD2 in April 2011. This group of officers provides first 48 hour support to the most complex and resource demanding investigations and replaces the assistance provided by SCD1 in the previous year. This team has been very effective and brings many specialist skills to SCD2. They also investigate linked series where the cluster teams do not have the necessary resources or where offences cross SCD2 or MPS borders.
That Members note the contents of this report.
B. Supporting information
1. The first part of this report, as requested in the commissioning brief from the Metropolitan Police Authority, provides a summary of the findings and recommendations of the “Sexual Offences Review 2010-11”. The figures referenced in this section are therefore those used in this review, which covers the business year April 2010 to March 2011. Figures used in the latter parts of this paper relate to the year to date October 2010 to September 2011 and comparison to the previous 12 months. There are no identified changes in overall trends from using these two data sets, but this accounts for the discrepancy in some of the figures quoted.
2. The Serious Sexual Offences Review 2010-11 was jointly commissioned by the MPS and MPA and conducted by the Met Intelligence Bureau (MIB). Its aim was to examine the drivers and consequences of the increased reporting of sexual offences since July 2009 and to provide the basis for our multi agency action plan which is attached at Appendix 1. This plan is updated 6 monthly, the next meeting is arranged for 3.11.11.
3. The overarching trends in reporting reveal a contrasting picture. MPS data showed an increase of 14% for all reported sexual offences and of 32% for rape, against figures of 6.3% and 12.6% increases respectively for the rest of the UK. Meanwhile, non police data (British Crime Survey and Havens) would seem to show a possible decrease of reported victimisation. The Havens in particular report a reduction of 7% in Police referrals and 22% in self referrals.
4. The figures above should be treated with caution. The BCS does not provide London specific data and only reflects national trends. The reduction in attendance at the Haven is a cause for concern within the Sapphire Command and NHS and is the subject of on-going research into its cause and what measures would help to reverse it including the approach from SOIT officers and the timing of their discussions with victims about attending the Havens. These figures also need to be considered against the estimation that nationally only 11% of sex offence victims and 20% of rape victims, actually report to police.
5. Increased reporting has occurred within all relationship types, but the lowest proportional increase is in the category of “Stranger 1” attacks, where the suspect has no link to the victim and where there is no preliminary interaction. It should be noted that these types of attack, which are frequently the cause of the greatest fear of crime account for only 8% of all reported rapes compared to 9% the previous year.
6. The report identifies that cases where the victim and suspect are known to each other, either within an established relationship or a more casual acquaintance have seen the largest increases.
7. This includes “Stranger 2” offence, which have occurred after a brief or casual encounter such as in a nightclub or “on-line”, as well as offences that have occurred within a pre-existing intimate relationship. Historically both these subgroups have been assessed as having the greatest degree of under-reporting and their increase is believed to be suggestive of improving confidence among victims in the quality of service they will receive from the Metropolitan Police.
8. There has been an increase in allegations of multi-perpetrator rapes, 390 of which occurred over this period. The majority of these feature groups of young men or youths targeting women and girls within a similar age group. It is assessed that this figure may reflect an increase in offences committed as well as an increase in allegations made and there is anecdotal evidence that this trend continues to increase, albeit numbers are a very small proportion of all sexual offences reported. Of these offences only 20% have been directly linked to known “criminal gangs”, although fear of gangs and a growth of an aspirational “gang culture” among the young, is likely to play a greater part in this offending. Anecdotally it is understood that this area of offending is likely to be more subject to under reporting than others, due to the peer pressure and fear placed on young victims.
9. The drivers of the overall 32% increased reporting of rape have been attributed in part to continuous improvement in recording standards and reduced use of ‘no crime’ decisions. An internal audit of recording standards carried out by the Performance Information Bureau reported that offences are now classified accurately and consistently. A 13% increase in reported offences of rape is attributed to these improved crime recording systems, whilst a further 19% is believed to be due to increased reporting in 2009/10 over 2008/9.
10. Over this period, the number of sanctioned detections have decreased for all sexual offences (1739 against 1843 the previous year) and for rape (625 against 753). This is the cause of concern within the OCU and the wider MPS and no simple answer to this trend has been identified, but the following hypotheses are all being explored:
- The increase in reporting has predominantly featured cases that are harder to prove to a judicial standard, such as offences between established or casual acquaintances that occur in private.
- Increased rigour and victim focus in recording has seen a reduction of allegations previously dismissed as “No Crime” or “Crime Related Incidents”. This has also increased the number of hard to prove allegations being investigated and confused accounts with limited investigative opportunities.
- Higher workloads that have not been fully matched by greater resources, which may have diluted focus within both the police and the CPS.
- Increased CCTV coverage and use of personal media provides additional investigation lines of enquiry which can undermine initial accounts provided by victims and witnesses
- The number of cases where alcohol and drugs play a significant role in the circumstances of the offence also undermines the clarity of evidence regarding ‘consent’.
- The number of cases where victims have multiple vulnerabilities in their lives is 87%, making them and their evidence less robust when scrutinised in light of court processes.
11. It is also possible that we are witnessing a settling of the benchmark that more closely reflects the reality of reported offences against the constraints of the criminal justice system.
12. However, whilst the number of charges fell, the number of prosecutions that actually progressed thorough to court hearings, increased by 17% as post charge attrition of rape cases reduced from 55% to 47%. This improvement can be attributed to many factors including increased support for victims across the CJS, more consistent and informed decision making by the CPS, better investigations and clarity of undermining factors prior to charge decisions being made.
13. Understanding the relationship between the number of sanctioned detections and actual prosecutions remains a priority, along with identifying other relevant measures of successful investigation and public protection. As allegations increase, it is hoped that the number of successful prosecutions will also continue to increase, as will our understanding of the relationship between these 2 measures. The greatest “pinch point” for case decision making has been identified as the Crown Prosecution Service charging decision stage, which may, in part, explain the reduction of sanctioned detections against the improved post charge attrition rate. It has also been identified that there have been frequent difficulties in keeping the most vulnerable victims engaged with the criminal justice process and the need for third party support for victims progressing through the CJS remains.
14. Our victim feedback surveys show a high level of victim satisfaction with an average of 22 forms received each month by SCD2. This is compared to a total of 37 in the full year prior to the creation of SCD2, with 87% of respondents now stating they are “completely” or “very” satisfied with the service they received from our staff. The survey also highlighted areas for improvement in the way that CPS decisions not to charge a suspect or to discontinue a case are communicated and explained to victims. This has been addressed through SOIT training events and there has since been a notable improvement in this element of the feedback.
15. The dominant profile of offenders has remained relatively static and reflects an over representation of young black men, as a proportion of the adult male population, particularly in cases of “stranger” attacks. The number of Asian men being identified as suspects within domestic cases has increased. Such ethnic profiling can, however, be an unreliable tool and great care should be taken not to assume causality from this statistical correlation.
16. The dominant profiles of victims remained unchanged and disproportionately featured young women or girls aged between 10 and 19. Reporting by Asian victims has increased and is now more in line with proportions of Asian people within the wider community. Small increases of reported offences by male victims have been observed, mainly in cases of stranger 1 attack or within intimate relationships. Greater details of current profiles are provided in Appendix 2.
17. Victim vulnerability factors continue to feature mental health problems, drug and alcohol use, young age and abusive relationships. All these factors create a double-bind of increasing the risk to the victim while also impacting on attrition within the criminal justice system at charging and court level.
18. Methods of offending have shown that the presence of alcohol and drugs continues to be prominent and increasing across the spectrum of offending. It is also apparent from hotspot mapping that offenders frequently make use of a vibrant night-time economy to target potential victims.
19. The use of social media, the internet, mobile telephones and associated technology by offenders to target victims appears to be increasing. It also illustrates that the problem of women or girls being “groomed” in this way is not restricted to the popular perception of predatory paedophiles but extends across the age spectrum, particularly between teenagers and younger adults. In several reported cases victims have been threatened with the distribution of video recordings of the offence taken on mobile telephones, in order to deter them from reporting the offence or to blackmail them into further victimisation.
20. A summary of the key findings of the Sexual Offences Review is as follows.
- The rise in reported sexual offences correlates to significant organisational change in the MPS response to rape, both in investigation and classification of offences.
- Much of the increase can be attributed to greater rigour in the classification of crimes and a significant reduction in “no-criming” alleged offences.
- The British Crime Survey, the most reliable national baseline for offending, shows no significant change in sex offence victimisation levels. This implies that the increase in reported offences is led by a greater proportion of victims coming forward to report.
- Victim and suspect profiles have seen no significant changes, again supporting the premise that underlying offending has not significantly changed.
- The rise in reporting occurs predominantly in cases where victim and suspect are known to each other or where a degree of interaction, such as in a night club, has occurred prior to the offence.
- The increase in reporting is not uniformly distributed across all the boroughs within this Metropolitan Police District
- Areas of high prevalence or “hotspots” correlate to two main categories, namely socially deprived areas and areas with a high level of night time activity.
- Reported sexual offence levels will continue to grow in the MPS, but to a lesser degree (source: Met Intelligence Bureau, currently 11% for the rolling 12 months to September 2011.).
- As the overall number of completed victim feedback forms increase, we will gain a clearer picture of service provisions and areas in which it can be improved.
21. The key action plan points emanating from this review have been identified as:
- Gang project education work, in partnership with SCD5 and TP, to focus on issues of consent, safety and rejecting “gang” culture.
- SCD2 and Havens to review communication strategy and consider the use of social media to increase referrals.
- Strategy and Improvement Directorate to undertake research on reporting and victimisation.
- Analysis to be undertaken by TP and GLA into missing persons debriefing and sexual exploitation.
- MPS to extend use of SOPOs and ROSHOs
- SCD2 to continue outreach to sex workers, through support agencies, to encourage reporting
- MIB to identify hotspots and repeat offenders, to identify prevention opportunities.
- SCD and CPS to share data to improve case attrition
- Multi agency action plan to be developed regarding “gang” rape.
- Information sharing protocols to be finalised with Rape Crisis and the Havens.
22. Between September 2010 - September 2011, there has been a 5.2% increase in the number of serious sexual offences reported in London, rising from 7791 to 8193 offences when compared with the previous 12 months. SCD2 has been responsible for investigating 3,672 of these offences being a rise of 11.8%. This 11.8% is on top of the rise of 14% on the previous 12 months. Within these 3,672 SCD2 offences, 2,994 have been classified as rape, a rise of 12.1%.
23. Using data from the 2001 Census, the percentage of serious sexual offences indicate an over representation of suspects aged between 18 yrs and 29 yrs and those over the age of 40 yrs, and those whose ethnic appearance is white or black/black British, followed closely by suspects of Asian origin.
24. The highest percentage of victims of serious sexual offences are aged between 18yrs and 29yrs, followed by those up to the age of 17yrs. The ethnic appearance of victims is predominantly white.
25. Sexual assaults on females make up 86.4% of the percentage of all reported non-rape serious sexual offences.
26. There is no significant change in the demographics of suspects or victims this year and last, which is outlined in Appendix 2.
27. There continues to be a high correlation between victims of sexual violence and vulnerabilities in their lives relating to their misuse of alcohol and drugs, their mental health, their young age and those living with their assailant in an intimate and/or domestic environment. The presence of these vulnerabilities also has an increased impact of the likelihood of case attrition within the criminal justice system compared to other victims, especially where mental health and alcohol/drugs are present and where vulnerabilities are multiple.
28. The presence of alcohol is an increasing feature for suspects and victims and is seen as a contributing factor to an increasing proportion of all offences. Other features which show increasing prevalence, although of much smaller volume, are where there is more than one suspect and where approaches are made involving use of the internet or Blackberry messaging.
29. Although the numbers of offences where more than one suspect is present remain few, the vulnerability of those involved is of particular concern. Group offences are often facilitated by the use of the internet and Blackberry messaging and then exacerbated through the distribution of images and gossip. One key theme is the lack of clarity by many young people of true consent and their rights and responsibilities in relation to sexual activity.
30. Part 3 requests a similar analysis of performance data collated over the same period as part I, being 12 months to September 2009/10 against 12 months to September 20/11. The areas of performance are:
- Overall sanctioned detections
- Sanctioned detections for stranger 1 and 2 attacks
- Victim feedback survey results.
These data sets are monitored on a fortnightly basis through the internal governance process and trends broadly reflect those identified in the first part of this paper in which the OCU response to these is also outlined. Details are provided at Appendix 2.
31. This section also requests that best performing and poor performing clusters be identified and reasons be provided for these variations. Again, information informing the Senior Management Team on these trends is regularly monitored. Discrepancies in performance between teams are addressed and hypotheses have been put forward that may explain these. Differences in the demographic composition of boroughs may partly address these variations and explain why the increase in reported criminality has been unevenly spread across the boroughs of the MPS and why certain types of offence are more prevalent in some areas than others e.g. those linked to the night time economy, predominance of students or those linked to domestic abuse.
32. Differences in leadership and actual staffing levels also have a degree of impact on these figures. Such explanations, however, are only partial and do not provide a ready solution to reverse negative trends.
33. In response to these issues the Command continues to work with PIB to develop a more detailed set of monthly performance data figures which includes MPS/CPS case handling and outcome data, arrests and other public protection interventions in order to enable team leaders and their line managers to more readily identify underlying issues which may impact upon headline performance figures.
34. Greenwich/Bexley has had a 49% rise in the number of classified offences but this is in comparison to last year when they had a high no crime rate. Management intervention and some remedial training took place in 2010 and it is this input that is largely reflected in the figure rather than a huge increase in reported offences and workload.
35. Kingston/Richmond has again had the lowest demand of all cluster teams for the year, despite the high percentage rise which is not numerically as significant.
36. Harrow & Barnet has had the biggest percentage fall, but again the numbers are not significantly very different.
37. Hackney/Tower Hamlets has had the largest number of classified allegations this year, but there has been a recent change in leadership that has led to improved caseload management.
38. Lambeth has also had a change in leadership but the outcomes are consistent with the previous incumbent.
39. There has been an overall drop in the rate of sanction detections from 15% to 13%, however this is less than the 11% increase in classified offences.
40. One team’s sanction detection rate outperforms the others being Greenwich/Bexley, considered an anomaly as described above, and a couple of others have higher rates resulting from a few multiple charges and the impact of successful linked series investigations, but otherwise there is only 5% difference in overall rates between most of the teams, indicating a greater consistency of approach than prior to the introduction of SCD2. All the teams are tackling the same difficulties and complexities of investigations across the Command, all have access to the same central support and CPS unit and all have centralised senior management oversight and equitable resource allocation.
41. The fourth part of this report provides updates from the previous report to this Committee dated October 2010 regarding the identified themes requested in the MPA tasking brief.
The Command has revised memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with both the Child Abuse Investigation Command (SCD5) and Human Exploitation Command (SCD9). There is not much overlap with the latter where SCD2 is responsible for individual rape allegations and SCD9 investigates any trafficking allegations. The MOU with SCD5 changed in Jan 2011 to reflect to better extent the skills base of each unit. Under the SCD realignment project it is intended that more SCD2 and 5 units will be co-located and share support resources and accommodation where possible, in order to deliver greater efficiencies.
43. Resources and Training
In the last year, SCD2 has trained an additional 122 officers in serious sexual offence investigation. Training was also provided to 4 City of London Police officers and 15 British Transport Police officers, these Forces having provided SCD2 access to their central London training facilities. Ten previously trained Sexual Offences Investigation Techniques (SOIT) officers have completed a refresher course and are now fully deployed. At present the SCD2 quota of 152 SOIT officers is complete and other trained SOIT officers await selection when vacancies arise. The Command is currently up to strength, being 477 officers and 45 police staff which includes the 20% increase in staff allocated in 2010.
44. Intelligence Unit
In December 2010 a member of the SMT conducted a 12 month review of the MOU with MIB. It was confirmed that all processes were resilient within the agreed remit of the unit.
Between May and December 2010, Operation Rosanna was set up. This was an operation dedicated to arresting suspects identified as posing the greatest risk to the public and whom teams had not been able to locate using reactive policing methods. It required an intelligence led manhunt capability which resulted in 99 suspects being located and arrested. In direct response to this and building on its success, Operation Celina was formed as a permanent way of providing the Command with a dedicated manhunt asset. The success and learning from these operations has been extracted and fed into the SCD realignment programme, proposing additional manhunt capability for SCD2 in order to ensure faster location and arrest of wanted suspects. It is hoped decisions will be finalised in the New Year to enable greater access to intelligence-led pro-activity to improve our ‘manhunt’ capability and track down the most dangerous offenders.
Through the use of improved analytical products, over the last 12 months the Intelligence Unit has identified 42 linked series and there have been 31 associated arrests.
45. Community Engagement
The partnership strategy is focused through the Diversity Forum and the Rape Reference Group, the latter of which has held themed meetings on the subjects of: Maintaining Confidence, Male Rape, Elder Abuse and Media Relations.
A Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) sexual violence conference was held in June 2011, the first of its kind to invite agencies and individuals from these communities to engage on such a large scale. From that, a sub-group has been formed to address the barriers to reporting and Baroness Gould has kindly agreed to act as patron.
There have been other local initiatives by teams such as the piloting of an SCD2 Mosque engagement in the north east of London and community engagement with elements of the traveller community who, traditionally, have been distrustful of the police.
Progress has also been made in reaching the prison population, traditionally a closed community with a culture of not reporting sexual offences to the authorities. A new MOU has now been drawn up between the Command and HMP Wormwood Scrubs to assist the effective investigation of rape within prisons. This is being extended across the MPS.
A number of projects have been undertaken in respect of gang activity and two of our officers are to receive an award for their work on ‘Growing against Gangs’.
Feedback forms are handed to nearly all our victims unless deemed inappropriate to do so by a Detective Inspector, normally for reasons where the victim has completely disengaged or has severe mental health issues. These feedback forms are now more accessible and have been translated into 21 languages. Access to ‘on-line’ forms is still being progressed centrally seeking to be more widely accessible to younger victims who are more inclined to use on-line rather than paper surveys.
The Command is currently working on the integration phase of the national Equality Standards for the Police Service (ESPS).
The three Haven sites continue to carry out the forensic examination of victims of serious sexual offences referred through the police or through self-referral.
In October 2011 the work of the Havens was structured into formal contracts with the NHS under specialised commissioning for the first time. This has meant greater scrutiny both on quality and value for money. The Havens’ work plan has shown developments in trialling forensic nurses, improving paediatric provision, costing services and improving quality. The Havens’ ‘Where is Your Line’ video that demonstrates the consent issue was nominated for the Sex Broadcasting awards. It has been rolled out to colleges and other educational establishments through Further Education for Sexual Health (FESH) under the Havens Communications Group that sits under the Havens Strategic Board chaired by SCD2.
SCD2 has been closely involved with The Havens and Rape Crisis in the setting up of four joint presentations to launch the three new Rape Crisis centres and improve information-sharing across the agencies.
The Duchess of Cornwall continues to support the work of SCD2, the Havens and Rape Crisis. She kindly hosted a reception for SOIT officers at Clarence House in March 2011 and has accepted an invitation to an SCD2 Commendation Ceremony.
47. Crown Prosecution Service
Due to the sheer volume of allegations made to the MPS it was recognised in January 2011 that the current national MOU with the CPS was unworkable due to the delays it was embedding in CPS decision making and that a London specific memorandum of understanding was necessary. This is being finalised and will ensure the greatest levels of efficiency possible. The number of reports had resulted in a delay in case papers being reviewed and the CPS drafted in more staff to address the issue in August 2011. This has reduced the waiting time for appointments from 12 weeks to 4 on average. This is being finalised and will ensure the greatest levels of efficiency possible. Data sharing re case progression and attrition on an SCD2 team basis is still awaited, however levels of attrition have improved during the year from 51.6% to 47.4% with 390 successful prosecutions in the 12 months.
The police are much less likely to ‘no crime’ any allegation and no more likely to make decisions influenced by the vulnerabilities of the victim, but all cases are now much less likely to be charged by the CPS and these decisions are notably different where a victim’s vulnerabilities are clear.
New DPP guidance issued to prosecutors in January 2011 encourages greater scrutiny and decision making by the Police of the likelihood of conviction prior to submitting papers to the CPS. Decision making by the London Rape Charging Centre is heavily influenced by the credibility of the victim, being the single most common reason for NFA decisions.
One in four cases presented by the MPS to the CPS results in a charge.
New monthly meetings are now being held with the CPS focusing on specific case charging decisions and reviews of failed prosecutions to ensure joint learning and mutual understanding of each agency’s decisions.
48. Organisational Learning
One of the main issues affecting case attrition is the length of delay from the initial report by the victim to the trial at court. One such example is of an allegation of serious sexual assault
being reported that led to the identification and arrest of the alleged suspect who claimed the victim had consented to intercourse. He was bailed pending a number of enquiries.
As a consequence of a number of delays in the investigations, some within the control of SCD2 and others outside, he remained on bail for eight months when the CPS review led to a decision not to prosecute him as a result of insufficient evidence. The suspect made a complaint regarding the length of time he remained on bail. Following a local and IPCC investigation, this complaint was upheld. The learning resulted in local management action being taken against officers and supervisors on the team and wider learning on SCD2, including the scrutiny by line managers of lengthy bail dates and joint initiatives with the CPS to reduce delays in advice/disposal decisions.
49. Other SCD2 Activity - Continuous Improvement Team
The Continuous Improvement Team, being 3 officers, has undertaken various inspections based on themes identified through line managers as areas of possible vulnerability including property handling; forensic sample submissions; interviewing suspects under caution rather than arrest. The unit devised a school input centred on pupils keeping safe and making healthy decisions. SCD2 is working closely with the Territorial Policing lead for the project on ‘Growing against Gangs’ and has developed the specific input entitled ‘Girls’ Gangs and Consequences’. They are giving advice in schools following specific incidents and gradually becoming more pro-active with work around ‘saying NO with confidence’, which seeks to empower young women and girls around issues of consent. Several year groups in Stoke Newington schools have benefited from this service and the foundations have been laid in the borough of Barnet who have agreed to take part in this training project. There are also plans to provide teachers with an additional input on these matters during their “inset days”. SCD2 and TP staff are to be highly commended at the MPS Diversity Awards for their outstanding work in this area.
Similar work has also been undertaken in the borough of Lewisham, working in partnership with local projects to educate boys and empower girls. Plans were in place to extend this work to “workshops” in further education establishments such as Lewisham College. Unfortunately these projects are being affected by cuts in local authority funding.
50. Other SCD2 Activity - Cold Case Team
The Sapphire Cold Case Investigation Team reviews undetected rapes and serious sexual assaults. Since its formation in 2003, the team has reviewed 1306 cases resulting in 154 convictions and 129 full DNA profiles for as yet unknown offenders, being loaded onto the National DNA Database (NDNAD).
In the last financial year the Cold Case Team has had 23 detections and 14 rape convictions that amounted to 113 years’ imprisonment. Notable convictions include Operation Composer. This was a linked series in 1989 of two rapes on young females who were attacked on their way home at night. Several years later, an individual was arrested for possession of indecent images of children and his DNA was found to match that of the unidentified suspect. At court he claimed that his victims had consented to intercourse but was found guilty by the jury.
The team also conducted a victimless prosecution for a case from the same year where a male forced his way into a home, raped, bound and gagged a woman at knifepoint. A partial DNA profile was enhanced and the suspect identified. In this instance the victim was unfit to give evidence due to the deterioration of her mental health that had occurred as a direct result of the attack. The strength of the prosecution case put together by the team was such that the suspect pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.
Seven other matters are currently awaiting trial. These include: A.I, a suspect for the Operation Orb linked series in the 1990s and also a suspect for a rape in 1987. The case of A.J was initially dropped by the CPS in 1991 due to lack of forensic evidence. New forensic technology has now enabled the Command to bring the suspect to justice. He is currently awaiting trial.
DNA enhancement continues to be the single main factor for re-opening investigations and the results have helped to bring closure to victims of long-standing trauma.
51. Other SCD2 Activity - Complex Case Team
The SCD2 Complex Case Team was formed in February 2011 fully staffed since May 2011, to provide a fast response to investigations undertaken by Sapphire teams across London and to undertake more complex serial rape investigations. Since starting, the team has deployed officers 311 times across our clusters to assist in the following areas:
- CCTV collection and viewing
- House to House and local enquiries
- Taking critical statements
- Interviewing and charging prisoners
- Undertaking and assisting in rapidly developing investigations to locate high-risk offenders. This has resulted in 29 arrests to date.
The Complex Case Team has undertaken 11 rape cases in totality. This includes five long term investigation which have resulted so far in the identification and arrest of four suspects. The fifth case has international aspects and is still being developed. Other investigations include two cases of paedophiles grooming and raping young boys and two investigations linked by forensic evidence.
52. Other SCD2 Activity - Sexual exploitation of girls
In the borough of Southwark, officers from this Command are working with their local colleagues piloting the establishment of a Multi Agency Sexual Exploitation Panel which is attended by key partners from Child Social Care, Education and from the Youth Offending Service (YOS). It runs on similar lines to the well established and successful Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) approach to domestic violence. The aim is to provide additional support to young girls who are at risk of sexual exploitation from gangs and others.
The SCD2 OCU Commander sits on the advisory group working with the Children’s Commissioner on a 2 year investigation into the Sexual Exploitation of children
53. There has been an increase in the Command’s BWT over the last twelve months with the number of officers rising by 117 to 477. This figure was reached in May 2011 when the Complex Case Team became fully operational.
C. Other organisational and community implications
Equality and Diversity Impact
1. Previous reports to the MPA have identified that the majority of victims of serious sexual offences in London are women, this remains the case with an over representation of black (20.8 %) victims. There is also an over representation from victims of the younger age groups of 10-17 year old victims (22.6%) and 18-29 year old victims (40.4%). It is assessed from British Crime Survey data that all sexual offending remains under-reported by as much as 80%.
2. The suspect profile remains overwhelmingly male, with an over representation of black suspects (28.9%) and those between 18-29 years (32.3%).
3. SCD2 supports the MPS Diversity and Equality Strategy by developing plans to ensure our services reflect the needs of London’s diverse communities. Our victim feedback forms are now available in 21 languages.
4. The SCD2 rape reference group continues to concentrate on those key themes impacting disproportionately on vulnerable individuals including learning disabilities and mental health. This group also provides a forum to conduct Equality Impact Assessments on SCD2 policies/functions.
5. The SCD2 Diversity Forum continues to actively engage with hard to reach communities as described previously in this report. The action plan reflects both internal and external considerations of the nine protected characteristics.
Consideration of Met Forward
6. SCD2 continues to ensure all staff receive training in this field. Work was undertaken by the SOIT champion to hold a national SOIT seminar in September 2011. Regular SOIT development days for the Command has also been implemented and the second phase is shortly to take place. A Specially Trained Officers (Dealing with Victims of Sexual Offences) forum has also been set up on the Police On Line Knowledge Area (POLKA) introduced by the NPIA for SOIT officers throughout the country to link in and obtain advice and information.
7. The approved budget and establishment for SCD2, including the Sapphire Intelligence Unit, can be summarised as follows:
8. The budget includes £2.16 m to fund the Havens.
9. The MPS continues to operate within a challenging financial environment. This will require the service to identify even more savings over the next planning period. Future spends in this area will therefore be subject to decisions based on demands and priorities across the Service. Realignment proposals for SCD1, SCD2 and SCD5 are currently being considered.
10. There are no legal implications associated with this report.
11. There are no environmental implications associated with this report.
12. SCD2 Sapphire continues to maintain and monitor a Risk Register to assist in identifying and managing a wide range of operational and organizational risks relevant to this area of policing activity. SCD2 Sapphire remains a high volume and high risk area of activity. Each investigation is continually risk assessed, particularly at the various review intervals, with each crime report subject to the Intelligence Unit’s risk matrix in preparation for the Daily Management Meeting. Further activity is directed by the Superintendent leading that meeting.
13. A strategic risk register is maintained on behalf of the business group where risks are closely assessed and monitored.
14. The volume of work in this area continues to have high demands placed on all officers. Mandatory OH consultation is shortly to be introduced to help protect SOIT officers. Close supervision of SCD2 crimes aims to reduce risks of error and what could subsequently lead to loss of public confidence.
D. Background papers
E. Contact details
Report author: DCI Jane Scotchbrook and DCI Seb Florent, MPS
For information contact:
MPA general: 020 7202 0202
Media enquiries: 020 7202 0217/18
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