Friday 13 March 2020
NAPAC’s response to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) publication “An inspection of the Metropolitan Police Service’s response to a review of its investigations into allegations of non-recent sexual abuse by prominent people”
Gabrielle Shaw, NAPAC’s CEO, said:
Safety is one of our most fundamental human needs. People who suffered abuse in childhood were failed by adults in the most serious way possible. This huge breach of trust leaves many adult survivors feeling mistrustful of the authorities and with a fear of speaking out.
In the next planned update of the crime counting rules (scheduled for publication by the Home Office in July 2020), HMIC recommends clarifying and reinforcing the principle that ‘belief by the victim’ is enough to justify recording a crime and that any investigation should be conducted impartially to establish the truth. These are important measures that NAPAC supports.
In contrast, it is very disappointing that the HMIC goes on to recommend an end to automatic belief by police as a victim discloses their account to them. There is significant risk that this will be heard by survivors as police ‘automatically not believing’ allegations. This could reaffirm a sense that there is nobody survivors can trust and may embolden abusers.
We know from what we hear on the NAPAC support line how much damage this will do to survivor confidence. This report has also ignored the wealth of evidence and statistics very clearly showing how important the concept of belief is to survivors coming forward to the police.
If police are struggling to make judgments in the investigation of difficult cases, then providing them with better training and support will be more effective than a high-level policy wording change that may inadvertently cause more harm to survivors.
Read the full HMICFRS report here: