Page last updated at 03:01 GMT, Wednesday, 15 April 2009 04:01 UK

Police to face rape case checks

Kirk Reid
Reid attacked 25 women in 12 years

The way police handle rape cases is to be monitored after a series of recent blunders, the Home Office has said.

Inspectors will assess how closely forces and prosecutors follow official guidance during their investigations.

The government also wants specialist officers to see all victims within an hour of complaints being made.

The new measures follow anger over two sex attackers who continued to assault women long after the Metropolitan Police identified them as suspects.

'Postcode lottery'

Scotland Yard announced changes to the way it responded to sex attacks after John Worboys assaulted dozens of women in the seven months after his arrest.

And amateur referee Kirk Reid, 44, was free to stalk and attack a number of women in south west London despite becoming a suspect four years earlier.

Every force has a responsibility to ensure that officers who come into contact with a rape victim are trained to support that victim
Vernon Coaker, police minister

Guidance on how the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) should investigate and prosecute alleged rapes will be published by the National Police Improvement Agency in June.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) will then assess quarterly how well forces in England and Wales are following that guidance from 2010.

Meanwhile, campaigners claim rape victims also face a "postcode lottery" with some forces five times more likely to secure convictions than others.

Police minister Vernon Coaker said: "Every force has a responsibility to ensure that officers who come into contact with a rape victim are trained to support that victim.

"The package of measures we are announcing today will help ensure the police and prosecutors are further equipped to investigate allegations of rape and secure justice for the victims.

"It is essential that every victim has immediate access to the services and support they need to come forward and report these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice."

New and existing Sexual Assault Referral Centres will also benefit from £1.8m in funding, the government announced.

The Home Office estimates up to 95% of rapes are never reported and only 6.5% result in a guilty plea or verdict.

Rape victims also face delays, insensitive questioning and judgmental or disbelieving attitudes, according to a 2007 HMIC report.



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