Met Police: rape victims are ‘treated worse’ than victims of other crimes, says London Victims’ Commissioner

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The London Victims’ Commissioner said rape victims frequently come up against “victim blaming” attitudes and have have to deal with police officers who are not “trauma-informed”.

Victims of rape and sexual assault are treated worse than victims of other crimes and often come up against “blaming” attitudes, the London Victims’ Commissioner has said.

In a wide-ranging interview, Claire Waxman told NationalWorld that rape victims receive a “worse service” from police partly because officers are not “trauma-informed” - meaning they do not handle investigations appropriately. She explained: “We find that there’s a lot of victim blaming and inappropriate language used, which particularly affects these victims because of the vulnerabilities caused by crimes of this nature.”

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She added that victims, particularly victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse, also do not receive a service that is “consistent” or of a high enough quality. “Victims deserve to be kept up to date and informed about what is going on in their case,” Ms Waxman said. But in reality, she explained, this is not what happens - with victims often left as an “afterthought” in the system.

It comes after serial rapist and former Metropolitan Police officer David Carrick was jailed for a minimum of 30 years after admitting to 49 charges. These detailed no less than 71 serious offences - including rape, sexual assault, false imprisonment, and coercive or controlling behaviour.

His offending went unknown for a period of 17 years, in large part due to his victims being discouraged from coming forward - and Carrick’s exploitation of his power as a police constable. One of his victims went to A&E after she was assaulted by Carrick, where a nurse told her she was not the first to be raped by a police officer - and that she “needed to be ready” if she was going to complain. The nurse also said it was unlikely the case would even go to court if the victim did report the crime.

Victims of rape and sexual assault are treated worse than victims of other crimes, the London Victims’ Commissioner has said. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorldVictims of rape and sexual assault are treated worse than victims of other crimes, the London Victims’ Commissioner has said. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld
Victims of rape and sexual assault are treated worse than victims of other crimes, the London Victims’ Commissioner has said. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld | Kim Mogg / NationalWorld

These types of experiences consequently lead to many victims dropping out of the allegation process, as evidenced by the 2021 London Rape Review which found that 65% of cases end in victim withdrawal. Of those who continue with their cases, 25% result in ‘No Further Action’ and only 3% result in convictions - which also dissuades victims from reporting.

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But if victims complain about this “poor” service, they then face a complaints process with “a lot of issues”, according to Ms Waxman. On this topic, NationalWorld recently spoke to Tashmia Owen, a rape victim who bravely waived her anonymity to reveal how she was treated by the police when she reported she had been raped by two people.

Tashmia said she came up against frequent victim-blaming - in addition to a Met Police detective who used “triggering, sexual language, as if he was deliberately trying to upset [her]”. During the investigation, one of the perpetrators stalked and sent threats to Tashmia. She informed the detective, as she thought she was supposed to, but says she was told in response: “I don’t want to hear you complain about threats unless someone is physically breaking your limbs, or you truly think you are going to die.”

In the wake of the ‘devastating’ revelations about David Carrick, Tashmia Owen tells NationalWorld about her ‘traumatising’ experience of reporting rape to the Metropolitan Police. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorldIn the wake of the ‘devastating’ revelations about David Carrick, Tashmia Owen tells NationalWorld about her ‘traumatising’ experience of reporting rape to the Metropolitan Police. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld
In the wake of the ‘devastating’ revelations about David Carrick, Tashmia Owen tells NationalWorld about her ‘traumatising’ experience of reporting rape to the Metropolitan Police. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld | Kim Mogg / NationalWorld

She reported his behaviour, but says she was told by a superintendent: “You can’t blame him for the way he’s acting - the amount of false accusations we get these days, the majority of women are liars.” She reported the superintendent too - but the investigation was closed “with no misconduct found”.

The Victims’ Commissioner, who has since raised Tashmia’s case with senior figures at the Met, said there are many factors that result in victims receiving such a poor service. One of these is a lack of resources - with Ms Waxman suggesting that there should be specific teams and specialist units dedicated to victim support and communications.

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However, there is also the issue of the Met Police’s culture, a topic which has been thrown into the spotlight in recent months. Ms Waxman explained: “There is a culture in the Met, that is ‘the Met knows best.’ This means that they are failing victims.”

Others have spoken out about misogyny within the force. Harriest Wistrich, director of the Centre for Women’s Justice, stated that the recent uncovering of the egregious sexual offences committed by rapist ex-PC David Carrick, combined with the fact that he “remained a serving officer whilst he perpetrated these horrific crimes against women”, is testament to the “deeply rotten misogynistic culture that has been allowed to exist within the Met.”

The Metropolitan Police has published a ‘Turnaround Plan’ following the horrific revelations about serial rapist David Carrick. Credit: Getty ImagesThe Metropolitan Police has published a ‘Turnaround Plan’ following the horrific revelations about serial rapist David Carrick. Credit: Getty Images
The Metropolitan Police has published a ‘Turnaround Plan’ following the horrific revelations about serial rapist David Carrick. Credit: Getty Images | Getty Images

In spite of these concerns, Ms Waxman has said she is “hopeful” things are changing - saying there is “a lot of work underway with the new Commissioner, who is very much focused on how he improves the future service to victims.”

Pointing to the Met’s recently published Turnaround Plan, the Victims’ Commissioner said she believes the force at the least “recognises and understands that they do have a problem in the way that they respond to victims and support them through an investigation.”

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The force is also reportedly placing greater focus on supporting female officers. During a recent visit to New Scotland Yard for instance, Ms Waxman told NationalWorld that all of the screens “have messaging about ways for their staff to come forward - to talk about any issues”. She continued: “So this is very much being publicised. But the proof of course will be in how they move forward in the coming months.”

The Met’s ‘Turnaround Plan’ will also hope to rebuild trust and confidence in police officers, after a string of serving police constables have been found to have abused their power to commit horrific crimes. The most publicised of these include Wayne Couzens, who kidnapped, raped, and killed 33-year-old Sarah Everard by using his police warrant card to falsely arrest her, and David Carrick, who was recently sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in jail, after admitting to a series of sex offences which took place over a 17-year period - while he was a police officer.

A spokesperson for the Met Police told NationalWorld: “Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has published his ‘Turnaround Plan’ which sets out how the Met will achieve its mission for More Trust, Less Crime and High Standards over the next two years. The plan builds on the Commissioner’s priorities from his first four months and the feedback he has received. It sets out clearly ‘what’ and ‘how’ the Met will do this.

“The priorities include providing a better service to victims and doing more to protect children and target men who perpetuate violence against women and girls. This includes continuing to transform and strengthen our response to the victims of rape and serious sexual violence as well as making better use of data and technology to target perpetrators and protect victims.”

Rape Crisis runs a 24-hour helpline every day of the year. You can call for free on 0808 500 222, or chat to someone online.