Rape cases handling review shelved
A major review of how police handle rape cases has been shelved amid efforts by the Government to save money.
The study by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) had been prompted by a series of high profile blunders by detectives.
The Home Office insisted funding for the probe was withdrawn in June because it would merely have "duplicated" other reviews by Baroness Stern and Sara Payne.
HMIC is still carrying out research into reoffending issues, which will be paid for out of its own budgets. But the news could raise fresh questions over the impact of government budget cuts on law and order. Home Secretary Theresa May is due to address the Police Superintendents' Association amid warnings from a police chief that extreme reductions could result in crime-fighting "Armageddon".
Last year it emerged that John Worboys, a London taxi driver, had been left free to attack hundreds of women because officers did not believe victims' reports of being assaulted.
Weeks after Worboys was jailed, Kirk Reid was convicted of more than 20 attacks, including two rapes. He had apparently come to the police's attention 12 times before he was arrested and charged.
Following the cases, HMIC announced that it would carry out a full audit of how victims were treated. The study - financed with £441,000 from the Home Office - was to scrutinise rape investigations from beginning to end, including how police built their cases and dealt with those accused.
Dave Gee, an adviser to the Government on rape, told a national newspaper that abandoning the scheme was short-sighted and momentum was being lost on improving investigation methods. "Despite the advice to investigators and prosecutors to try to build cases, and thus the credibility of the victim, there is little evidence of this being applied routinely. It results in a majority of discontinued cases."
He said some forces were already reviewing rape investigations in the expectation of funding shortfalls. "There are signs that the future may not be encouraging," Mr Gee said.
A Home office spokesman said: "The Home office and HMIC wanted to avoid duplicating the work of the reviews by Baroness Stern and Sara Payne which extensively examined the experience of victims of rape. HMIC is to look at areas which those reviews did not cover such as repeat offenders and intelligence handling."