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Commissioner: Rape Cases Need Dramatic Improvements

Tuesday 10th June 2014

The Head of the Metropolitan Police has admitted the force needs to drastically improve how it investigates rape cases.

bernard hogan howeEighty percent of victims don't report the crime and conviction rates are falling

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has told LBC an independent review will be held into improving the police's investigation of sexual offences.

"There have been reviews before and I think the police and the whole system has improved over the years but I'm not confident its entirely been sorted out and I want to make sure as we go forward over the next five to ten years, the legacy we leave my successors is going to be a stronger than one we inherited."

The review is part of a wider national plan also looking at how sexual offence cases are dealt with by the Crown Prosecution Service and in the courts.

The review will be undertaken by Dame Elish Angiolini, a former Lord Advocate of Scotland, and will be published next February.

Yvonne Traynor runs London's largest Rape Crisis centre and has told LBC more needs to be done to boost conviction rates.

"It tends to be when it gets to court that something is going terribly wrong. If you think about, in a year, about 85,000 women are being raped and out of those 85,000 women that are raped 1,700 perpetrators are found guilty. Now, there is something wrong with those statisics, I think we've all got to agree."

Launching the review, Sir Bernard admitted he has concerns over whether officers are as sensitive towards victims as they should be - 80% of victims who do come forward are vulnerable in one way or another, maybe through drink, drugs or psychiatric illness, he said.

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

Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, said there have been great strides forward but public perception remains a problem.

"There is a much wider debate around myths (about rape) that are in society - where do jurors come from? Society," she said before admitted she would be in favour of judges warning jurors against having unconscious bias at the start of a trial, rather than waiting for the end.