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Police defend drop in solving rape cases

PUBLISHED: 10:26 03 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:34 07 September 2010

Ben McPartland POLICE are adamant it is too soon to tell whether a drop in solving rape cases in Camden can be put down to a restructuring at Scotland Yard. Figures released at a meeting of the Camden Community and Police Consultative Group last Wednesday

Ben McPartland

POLICE are adamant it is too soon to tell whether a drop in solving rape cases in Camden can be put down to a restructuring at Scotland Yard.

Figures released at a meeting of the Camden Community and Police Consultative Group last Wednesday (November 24) revealed that rape 'sanction detection' rates (the per centage of cases where a suspect is identified) have fallen to 25.4 per cent of reported incidents, compared to 32 per cent last year.

Earlier this year Met chiefs decided to centralise the way rape offences are investigated by bringing them under Scotland Yard's CID to try to improve the organisation's response to rape and serious sexual violence.

Previously the crimes had been investigated by a 'Sapphire' unit based in each of London's 32 boroughs.

The restructuring took place just over two months ago and Met bosses say it is premature to judge its success or failure on Camden's figures.

A spokesman told the Ham&High: "The transfer of Sapphire to the Specialist Crime Directorate took place on September 23 and it is too early to draw any conclusions about the impact on detections. Monitoring will occur on an ongoing basis and where concerns are raised, appropriate action will be taken."

The Met conducted a widespread consultation earlier in the year after concerns were raised about its handling of two high profile rape cases.

Management decided that having a single command responsible for rape and serious sexual violence rather than a locally run team in each borough would provide a more consistent service, better trained staff and improve the response for victims.

There is a now a dedicated 24-hour response team made up of specialist staff who can be deployed right across the capital.

When the changeover was first announced a Met spokesman said the move would improve the traditionally low rates for rape prosecutions.

He said: "With a single command structure will come increased accountability and a more consistent approach that we anticipate will benefit criminal justice outcomes."

Up to date figures from the Met also reveal there has been a 27.1 per cent increase in the number of recorded accusations of rape this year compared to last.

In recent months there have been two high profile rape allegations in the Belsize area.

In the first case two teenage boys have been charged in connection with the alleged rape of a young woman in a basement flat on Fellows Road, while police are still hunting for a man wanted in connection with a sexual assault on a teenage girl in Swiss Cottage Open Space on Wednesday October 21.


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