The Metropolitan Police Service has abandoned its policy of automatically believing victims of sexual abuse, according to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick.
Speaking to The Times, Ms Dick said that she had “rethought” the previous policy of automatically believing people who make allegations of sexual abuse. While she stressed that her officers would still “start with a completely open mind” the Commissioner stated that the Met’s job is “to be fair, to be impartial, and where appropriate to bring things to justice”.
This is a marked change from the previous approach, which was based on a national policy to automatically believe alleged victims of abuse. This policy was based on guidelines introduced in 2011 following the revelation that police had failed to properly investigate various abuse allegations, including those made by victims of former BBC presenter Jimmy Savile. The policy was intended to encourage more victims of abuse to come forward by giving them confidence that their allegations would be taken seriously and would be properly investigated.
However, the Met was later accused of serious failings related to Operation Midland – an investigation into allegations made by a man known only as ‘Nick’ that he had been abused for nine years by members of a Westminster paedophile ring. The investigation cost the Metropolitan police more than £2million and closed in 2016 with no charges being brought. ‘Nick’ has now been charged with six offences relating to indecent images of children and faces potential charges for perverting the course of justice and fraud relating to the allegations he made that led to Operation Midland.
An review of Operation Midland, carried out by retired judge Sir Richard Henriques, found that the allegations made by ‘Nick’ should not have been considered ‘credible and true” and should not have been automatically believed. The review identified 40 areas of concern related to the investigation and is likely to have been a major factor in Ms Dick’s decision to rethink the Met’s approach to automatically believing victims.
Unfortunately, the danger is that by publically signalling this change of policy, many victims of sexual abuse may be discouraged from taking their case to the police for fear that they will not be believed. With only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choosing to make a report to police, anything that puts people off making a report can have a serious negative impact. It is vitally important that victims have confidence that they will be believed and will receive appropriate support so that as many people as possible feel able to pursue justice against their abusers.
This is why IBB Claims takes a firm position on believing victims of sexual abuse. Our experience is that when survivors have tried to talk about their childhood assaults in the past, they have not been believed by those in authority. We, at IBB, believe what our clients tell us. We are committed to supporting victims of any type of sexual abuse and will do what we can to ensure you feel confident to see your abuser held to account for their actions and to receive justice.
If you were a victim of childhood sexual abuse, IBB Claims’ expert child abuse lawyers will always start from the position of believing you. We offer empathetic, sensitive support and legal guidance to help you pursue justice against your abuser.
With extensive experience in a wide range of child abuse cases, including both recent and historic abuse, we can give you the best chance of a successful outcome, helping you to bring your abuser to account and protect others from future abuse.