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Police slammed over black cab rapist

Category: England

Published: 20th Jan 2010 10:24:55

Five police officers have been disciplined over mistakes made during the investigation into sexual assault claims against London taxi driver John Worboys.

The 52-year-old from south-east London was jailed indefinitely last year for the rape of a woman and attacking others in his cab. Police now believe he may have assaulted up to 100 women.

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) claims Metropolitan police officers made serious errors of judgment and missed crucial opportunities to catch him at earlier date.

The review points to the fact a woman called the Met in July 2007 to report she had been sexually assaulted by a driver of a London taxi.

Worboys was arrested the very next day and later bailed. However, the investigation was then closed in October 2007 after it was decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

The IPCC claims the tax driver then went on to attack seven further women before being arrested for a second time and charged in February 2008. In March 2009, he was convicted of 19 charges, including one count of rape and four sexual assaults from October 2006 to February 2008.

Following his conviction, the police watchdog then investigated complaints from two of the victims, one from 2003, and one from 2007.

The findings were released today criticising the Met's handling of sexual assault cases and calling for serious procedural changes.

IPCC commissioner for London, Deborah Glass, said: "The number of victims in these cases and the public reaction to the police response has undoubtedly acted as a wake-up call to the Met in its response to the victims of sexual violence.

"They have since reviewed their own procedures and training, and the changes they have already implemented are significant. However it is inevitable that there will be a degree of scepticism about whether this is enough to deal with what is widely regarded as a long neglected area of policing.

"The onus is now on the Met to demonstrate that these changes make a real and tangible difference, and our recommendations are designed to help them achieve that."

The five officers disciplined over the Met's handling of the case include two detective constables, a detective sergeant and two detective inspectors.

One of the detective constables and one detective inspector received written warnings, while the others received "formal words of advice".

In response to the findings, Commander Simon Foy, head of homicide and serious crime at the Met, admitted the police force had let the victims down and issued his unreserved apology.

"My colleagues have previously apologised for any failings in service, attention or standard of investigation offered to women targeted by Worboys or by a second serial attacker, Kirk Reid. Today I reiterate these apologies unreservedly," he said.

"The two complainants were also let down by the MPS and for this I am also sorry."

Former children's football coach Reid was arrested four years after first becoming a police suspect and eventually convicted of two rapes and 24 assaults, although he is believed to be behind many more attacks.

The IPCC confirmed the independent investigation into the Met's handling of Reid case is also complete and will be published once the force decided on what disciplinary action will be taken.

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UK Wired, 2010. Police slammed over black cab rapist [Online] (Updated 20th Jan 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/11958/Police-slammed-over-black-cab-rapist [Accessed 23rd Aug 2014]

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