I will confess to having a very low opinion of the police’s ability to handle rape cases, having written several times before on the matter. Even I was surprised, though, by this story. It shows things are even worse than I thought.
A second detective working in the Met Police’s Sapphire unit–a specialist unit for rape cases–has been arrested for falsifying documents in order to get rape investigations shelved. The recently-arrested officer was involved in over sixty cases, and in almost two thirds of them, he claimed the investigation was over. The other officer falsified statements and reports, and wrote to survivors telling them their investigations had stopped, even though this had not happened.
It’s a disgusting business. The people who sought help through official channels–who are already in a minority of rape survivors–have been thoroughly let down by some men covering the backs of rapists and working hard to preserve rape culture through any means possible.
This goes beyond not taking rape allegations seriously, which is enough of a problem in and of itself: the Sapphire unit also managed to miss at least two serial rapists through sheer negligence and not investigating properly.
Even the police have realised they might have a bit of a problem. They have said they have had their “Macpherson moment”–a reference to the Macpherson investigation into police racism following the Stephen Lawrence case. They promise to tighten up supervision and sack any officers who aren’t up to scratch. We all know the impact of Macpherson: police racism totally stopped overnight and they got better and certainly never racially abused anyone ever again. I have very little faith in the police’s ability to mend this and make it right.
So what can be done? Ultimately, the system needs to transform. Rape culture is why allegations are not taken seriously, and some turn to actively foiling rape investigations. It is rape culture–every tiny aspect of it, not just the ones we can see–that needs to go, not a few “bad apple” policemen so the Met can pretend they have done something.
Update: Gherkingirl has written a very powerful (though triggering) post about her experience of negligence and forgery from Sapphire. Her bravery and persistence has led to positive change and this story going public, though it’s sad that this ever had to happen to her in the first place.