More than 50 rape cases ‘require further investigation’

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The initial assessment is now complete after Northumbria Police decided to undertake a review of a number of rape cases over fears that they were wrongly recorded as a ‘no crime’.

As previously reported by the Gazette, during a recent audit by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), it was identified that some rape cases may have been incorrectly ‘no crimed’.

Any report of rape is immediately recorded as a crime before any investigation takes place. Occasionally, following further investigations, those reporting the crime inform officers that no crime took place. This is what is referred to as a no crime.

The Chief Constable took immediate action and ordered further checks to be made on all such reports since October 2011. A team of experienced officers, under the supervision of Chief Superintendent Neil Adamson, looked in more detail at a total of 153 cases.

Today, Chief Superintendent Adamson explained the current position: “The initial assessment is now complete. I have reported my findings direct to the Chief Constable and we have determined that 54 cases require further investigation. These have been reopened as crimes and each case will be reinvestigated by the review team. This will include contacting the victims in these identified cases and our main priority is to support them through this process.

“A total of 48 officers involved in the identified cases, and those who supervised the investigations, have been served with formal notifications as part of the standard procedure in such circumstances. Those who are within the Rape Investigation Team have been moved to other teams as a temporary measure to ensure professional standards are maintained.

“This does not necessarily mean they are guilty of serious issues. This is entirely dependent on the findings of the investigation. If any officer has failed to reach the high standards expected of them, rest assured this will be dealt with through the proper procedures.

“We are progressing this speedily but thoroughly, mindful of the impact this can have on victims when we speak to them again about their experiences. We have already made our first arrest following the reopening of these investigations. A 50 year old man has been arrested in the Slatyford area of Newcastle in connection with a rape in March this year and has been bailed.

“I want to reassure anyone reporting such crimes to us that we will listen to them, take them seriously, investigate thoroughly and bring offenders to justice whenever we can.”

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird said: “This issue was in the headlines a month or so ago and we took immediate action when the HMIC and, indeed, my office identified some rape ‘no crimes’ of serious concern. We acted before the publication of the report and are the only force which has taken such a strong stance on this issue, though many forces have far higher rates of ‘no criming’ than we do.

“The action being taken is right and will get to the root of the issues and I am confident that progress is being made and victims are being dealt with sensitively and appropriately.

“I am continuing to monitor the situation closely and receive weekly updates from the Chief Constable. Where mistakes have been made and, all the more if there has been any falling short of duty, the police will learn the lessons. The Chief Constable and I are determined to ensure the service offered to victims of serious sexual crime is of the very highest standard.”

Anyone with concerns should contact police via 101 in the first instance.