The Lib Dems’ London mayoral candidate Brian Paddick is interviewed in today’s Guardian, and has some strong words for his former employers, the Metropolitan police:
Paddick warns that some detectives adopt a “she wants it really” attitude to women alleging rape and sometimes refuse to acknowledge that some types of men, such as licensed cab drivers, can be rapists.
The former deputy assistant commissioner is placing the Met’s mixed performance on dealing with rape at the heart of his campaign as the Liberal Democrat candidate in May’s London mayoral election. Paddick, who told the Leveson inquiry this week that he toned down a Met report about its handling of rape on the instructions of senior officers, is launching a poster and online campaign highlighting the Met’s poor record.
Paddick tells the Guardian: “When you look at the very low conviction rate; when you read the testimony of rape victims who say that, whilst the initial police response was good, when the detectives got involved they seemed to be determined to undermine the allegation – then predatory men are going to take some encouragement from that. If predatory men believe that the police will try and discredit the victim, then that could encourage them to commit offences of rape.”
The former Met officer warns that police often make the assumption that women are partially or totally responsible if they have been flirtatious. “This is not confined to the police service, this is an attitude in society generally,” says Paddick. “I can remember a senior officer saying to me: ‘Oh yes, this woman went round and started playing strip poker with this guy.’ She subsequently claimed that she’d been raped and he said: ‘Well, she’d been asking for it.’
“You know this idea that when a woman says no, she doesn’t actually mean no, she’s not actually saying no, she wants it really, is something we have to address as an attitude in society as well as an attitude in the police. Unfortunately, the two things reinforce themselves in the police.”
The interview coincides with the launch by Brian of a hard-hitting poster campaign focused on ensuring the police take rape seriously:
As Brian says on his website:
The discrepancy between the number of rapes in London and those convicted for rape is huge. Last year the met police recorded 3,312 rapes but London courts convicted just 219 people of rape. The criminal justice process leaves too many victims feeling ignored or let down. We need to ensure survivors are supported and taken seriously – not left blaming themselves. As Mayor, I will focus the system on meeting the needs of rape survivors.
* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.