Anti-rape squad is TOP team

PUBLISHED: 12:57 04 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:49 25 August 2010

AN ANTI-RAPE and sexual assault police unit has been commended for being the most successful team of its type in London.

AN ANTI-RAPE and sexual assault police unit has been commended for being the most successful team of its type in London.

Bexley Police's Sapphire Unit brought 13 of 14 reported rape cases to court last year, giving it a 96 per cent detection rate compared to the London average of 32 per cent.

Bromley Police brought 15 suspected rapists to charge last year, but with 33 reported cases its detection rate was 45 per cent.

Following an award from the Assistant Commissioner this month, Detective Sergeant Warren Arter said: "A lot of our work is influenced by the murder-investigation experience. When a new DI took over the operation he standardised procedure so that everyone on the team has a set role they stick to.

"It's not exactly The Wire, but a lot of our work revolves around getting the background to the case, whether it be looking at forensics, text messages, or alcohol levels."

Bexley also has the highest overall detection rate of all sexual offences, from flashings to indecent assault and rape.

However even with a high detection rate rape cases still have a notoriously low conviction rate.

Just six per cent of rape trials in London end with guilty verdict and even in Bexley only one in four cases achieved a conviction.

DS Arter said: "It is frustrating - rape convictions are extremely hard to secure as it is a unique offence.

"There are often no witnesses and a lot of women wait a considerable time before reporting a rape, which can be considered suspicious in court.

"There are no typical cases - last year victims ranged between 15 to 50 - and you are often talking about complex relationships that have to be explained to an open court."

A second aspect hampering court cases is a 'common misconception' that rape only happens to lone women, said DS Arter.

In fact some 25 per cent of rapes are related to domestic violence, though DS Arter admitted there have been no male rape complaints in Bexley in over two years.

The Met's Sapphire units are due to be centralised in September, probably leaving Bexley twinned with Greenwich borough.

DS Arter added: "At the moment not every borough pays for a Sapphire Unit.

"If we can improve the way rapes are investigated across a wider area that can only be a good thing."

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