APCC Response to Henriques Review
The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners has today expressed its disappointment in the part-published findings of the Henriques review into Operation Midland and Operation Vincente and reiterated its clear view that sex abuse complainants should be believed in the same way that other complainants are and that all that complaints of crime should be fully investigated.
Sir Richard Henriques heavily redacted review contains a number of recommendations including that “the instruction to believe a ‘victim’s account’ should cease”.
APCC Chair and PCC for Northumbria Vera Baird QC said:
“I would question whether publishing merely a partial and edited version of this review is in the public interest. Let us be absolutely clear, all complainants of sexual abuse should be believed when a crime is reported in exactly the same way that other complainants are believed and an appropriate inquiry launched. Earlier in the year, we were disappointed that outgoing Metropolitan Police Chief, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe suggested that police should not believe sex abuse complainants.
“This attitude is likely to deny sexual abuse victims justice. It is extremely difficult to complain about this kind of hidden and personal crime and victims need to be reassured that when they do so they will receive all the help and support that they need.
“The overwhelming consensus of professional, dedicated officers is that victims should and will be believed. As with all crimes that is the right stance and must be sustained unless and until an inquiry discloses the need to raise questions. This is have the level of service that all complainants are entitled to expect all police forces to deliver. Where that is not happening it is our job to make sure that it starts to happen”
PCC for Hertfordshire, David Lloyd said:
“The starting point for any police officer undertaking an investigation into alleged abuse must be to treat every victim as credible and approach the case with an open mind. Anything else will serve only to put people off coming forward in the future – people who have already been through horrendous experiences.
“Only when it becomes clear that a witness is not able to provide a credible account of the allegations, or is even making things up, should the police should move on.”
“As with any investigation into a crime, there will be leads which eventually do not go any further, but that must not be a barrier to treating people who come forward with allegations seriously.”
Notes to editors:
1) In the spring, the College of Policing stated that Police in England and Wales need to further encourage sexual abuse victims to come forward. Chief executive Alex Marshall said claims should be “believed” unless there was evidence to the contrary. In a letter from the college – the body which sets standards and guidance for police in England and Wales – chief constables were told they need to “further improve” the confidence of abuse victims to report allegations. Mr Marshall said a “significant reason” why sexual assault victims did not report crimes was a concern they would not be believed. In his letter, he said “substantial efforts” had been made to make victims feel more confident about coming forward. “It’s important that progress is not lost,” he said.
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