Victims must have the confidence to report sexual abuse and the public must have confidence in our investigations
National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) Lead for Child Protection and Child Abuse Investigations, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, has emphasised the importance of maintaining trust and confidence in the police service - so that victims of sexual abuse feel able to come forward and reports are investigated.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey said:
“The police service has let victims of sexual abuse down in the past. Many victims of abuse have told us that they didn’t have the confidence to report it because they feared they wouldn’t be believed. We know that there were some occasions when victims did report to us and their reports were not taken seriously enough.
“The College of Policing issues the national guidance for investigating child abuse. The College makes it clear that police should operate on the basis of proving or disproving the credibility of an allegation, not the credibility of a victim. They have said, that while careful consideration should be given to ensuring the integrity of the evidence, to begin an investigation from a position of doubt is unlikely to encourage victims to come forward. I have said that we should start from a position of believing the victim until we are given reasonable cause to do otherwise. We then investigate impartially, thoroughly and professionally without fear or favour.
“Questions have been raised about whether this is the right approach. This will be considered by the judge-led inquiry commissioned by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan Howe this week. I also want to consider this issue and will be doing so with the College of Policing taking into account the range of opinions.
“The changes we’ve made to our approach to sexual offences in recent years have led to many more victims having the confidence to report; we must ensure that confidence in our investigations is maintained.”