In late May, the BBC stated that reports of rape went up 53% over the last four years in the London area. 661 people were charged in 2011-2012 in cases of sexual assault. The Metropolitan Police spokesman claims that the number of sexual assualts reported in the current year reflects the growing confidence victims feel when coming forward.
However, the BBC’s report also stated that the number of reported rapes in London sat at about 3,334 from 2011 to 2012, an unsettlingly high number. Although many officials have claimed an increase in resources for women that are assualted, such as safe havens and safer transportation options in the city, many victims still feel particularly fragile when approaching the police.
Part of the problem rests with the issues of corruptiont that riddle the Sapphire unit, the very group of officers meant to protect victims. Investigations have revealed corrupt officers within the ranks of the unit itself.
This past Friday, a detective constable was arrested on suspicions that he did not follow the course of justice in researching rape cases, thereby letting guilty men walk free.
The Guardian reports that, “Colleagues raised allegations that he had altered crime documents by inserting statements from the Crown Prosecution Service and senior officers to indicate that no charges were to be brought in rape and sexual abuse cases when no such decision had been made.”
The constable, who remains unnamed at this point, was involved in 63 cases of assault, 26 of which he claimed were completed when they were still only partially investigated. The unnamed constable is not the only man in the unit found guilty of misconduct in his professional activities.
Just last week, another Sapphire officer, Ryan Coleman-Farrow, was charged with 13 counts of misconduct. Coleman-Farrow was charged with falsifying documents and generally failing to complete investigations into rape and sexual assault cases.
These arrests may very well buckle the supposed increase in confidence in the police to handle sexual assualt cases over the last few years. The conduct of these two officers increases the perception that police will not believe a victim when they decide to come forward.
The Sapphire unit has claimed massive reform movements after they failed to catch two serial rapists in the early 2000s, men that had crossed police radar multiple times. It seems these claims to reform will be questioned again in the aftermath of two Sapphire unit arrests in just a number of weeks.
The Sapphire website claims that the unit boasts of “specially trained officers, who have to attend a rigorous training course. They ensure that the immediate physical, mental and welfare needs of the victim are met.”
These words ring hollow in the wake of a third investigation into Sapphire, which is questioning the functioning of an entire Southwark unit between 2008 and 2009. The damage to confidence in police reliability will be seriously injured by these new cases, making it more difficult for victims to come forward.
Scotland Yard has urged any women who have been assualted to come forward to police if they feel they were rebuffed by police during the investigation of their cases over the last few years. The question remains, how many women will want to return to police if they were not taken seriously the first time around?