Page last updated at 18:54 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Met concedes failings over rapist

Kirk Reid
Reid was known to police having previously been charged

Mistakes by the Metropolitan Police allowed a serial sex attacker to go on evading capture, a senior officer in the force has said.

The Met has responded by creating a new dedicated sexual crimes command, Commander Mark Simmons said.

Kirk Reid, 44, was convicted on Thursday of 24 sexual assaults and two rapes over at least a six-year period.

Mr Simmons apologised to Reid's victims on behalf of police for the failure to link the cases and track him earlier.

DNA was twice recovered from victims but, despite being known to police as a potential sexual attacker following a 1995 charge of indecent assault, no DNA sample was collected from Reid.

Judge's criticism

Police believe Reid may have been responsible for dozens of other attacks and have launched a help line for potential victims.

Previous reporting bans on the case were lifted with his convictions and he is scheduled to be sentenced later this year after undergoing psychiatric testing.

Commander Mark Simmons of the Metropolitan Police apologises over delays

Judge Shani Barnes praised officers who finally caught Reid, but reserved sharp criticism for the "years of inadequate work" that had allowed him to elude capture for so long.

"I'd like to pay tribute to the many women who have given evidence and secured that conviction," said Mr Simmons, who is head of the Met's Sapphire Unit which investigates sex crimes.

"If, because of the delay in arresting Reid, there are women who suffered unnecessarily at his hands because of the time that he was at large, then I need to say, on behalf of the Metropolitan Police... how very sorry we are that that's occurred."

Reid's victims ranged in age from late teens to their early 60s and all of his victims were strangers who were walking alone, late at night.

In most cases, the victims were grabbed from behind and forced to the ground.

These attacks took place between August 2001 and October 2007.

'Hugely under-reported'

Mr Simmons said they were aware that confidence in the police had been diminished by their failings.

He said: "What I would say is that we know rape is hugely under-reported.

"Please do come forward to us if you have suffered this terrible crime."

Mr Simmons said frontline officer training had already been improved, along with intelligence-sharing and analysis operations.

"We've announced already that we are setting up a new dedicated rape and serious sexual offence command within the specialist crime directorate in the Met Police and we are absolutely clear that will help take us on to the next level in delivering improvements in service to victims."

Mr Simmons said he had voluntarily referred the Reid case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission for a full review.

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