Friday, March 11, 2011

When rapists are allowed to strike again...and again...

Two cases are prominently mentioned by Baroness Stern in her review into the handling of rape cases. Those of John Worboys and Kirk Reid.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission report in 2010 found that systematic failures by the Metropolitan Police, especially their willingness to believe the suspects' stories rather than those of their victims, left both men free for several years to continue preying on women until they were finally caught.

In the case of John Worboys, the so-called "Black Cab Rapist", the first reports about his attacks were made in 2002, but the police didn't bring him to justice until 2008. Part of the reason for that was a belief that a driver of a black cab couldn't possibly be guilty of raping women. Worboys was given the benefit of the doubt and was able to make further attacks. It's widely believed more than a hundred women were raped or sexually assaulted by John Worboys before the police finally brought him in.

In the case of Kirk Reid, a South London chef, he was cleared of an indecent assault in 1995, then began attacking women in the Wandsworth area in 2001. Reid first crossed the police radar in 2002, became a rape suspect in 2004, but despite his name repeatedly coming up in the investigation, it wasn't until 2008 that the police charged him. Reid raped and sexually assaulted 71 women over a period of eight years. The IPCC ruled that the police failed to take seriously the complaints made against Reid by his victims.

The IPCC report into both cases made it clear the Metropolitan Police Service was severely at fault. But no police officer lost their job over what happened. Meanwhile, around 200 women are trying to rebuild their lives. At least their attackers are finally in prison. For the time being.

It's a simple enough conclusion to draw. If the police had taken the victims seriously from the beginning and treated their cases with the gravity they deserved, they could have saved multitudes of other women from the trauma of being raped.


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