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Officers would not withhold evidence with malicious intent, says Cressida Dick


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Commissioner launches staunch defence of sexual offence investigators.

Comm Cressida Dick

Comm Cressida Dick


Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick says she does not believe that officers investigating sex crime allegations would withhold evidence from prosecutors "with malicious intent".

The force is carrying out a review after two rape cases collapsed within a week over problems relating to disclosure.

Both Liam Allan and Isaac Itiary were cleared of any offences after further "relevant material" was disclosed during their trials.

The detective in charge of both cases has been removed from active duty during the review, the Met says.

Asked at the London Assembly by UKIP's David Kurten if the force may have an unconscious bias against men, Comm Dick replied: "I don’t think we have that. I suppose as Commissioner I would be stupid to rule it out and say we would never have that."

But she pointed out that such investigations often see detectives weighing up one person's word against another's, that those involved often know each other and "frequently vulnerability is involved on a variety of sides".

"They follow the evidence and they try to do their best in quite difficult circumstances."

She added that disclosure is becoming more complex in the digital age.

Pressed further on whether the presumption of innocence no longer exists in such cases with a push to believe victims and that mistakes may be overlooked in order to push up conviction rates, Comm Dick launched a staunch defence of her officers.

"I do believe they're well trained, they're good people, I don't believe for a moment that any of my officers would deliberately withhold anything which could be material, could support the defence. They would not do that with malicious intent, is my sense.

"I do not believe that the great desire to ensure that we do our job properly would result in a perverse incentive to do something which would just be wrong. They follow the evidence and they put the case to the Crown Prosecution Service and I think they do their best in a very complex and difficult digital world."

She added: "Take it away from disclosure for a second – we have our role in the system, the system is there with all its checks and balances to try to ensure that the innocent are not found guilty and, where appropriate, that the guilty are found guilty.

"And my people are investigators, they must listen and be supportive to a complainant but they are investigators and will investigate from that moment on."

Parliamentary aide Samuel Armstrong, 24, who was cleared of raping a woman after a night drinking in the House of Commons, complained last week that evidence was not disclosed to his legal team until eight days before his trial.

But the force says it is content with its disclosure work in the case.

Labour Peer Shami Chakrabarti told the BBC: "I have been hearing as have others on an increasing basis about a system that is under-funded.

"And under-funding in relation to disclosure in particular, which these days with social media and text messaging and so on can be a really labour-intensive process."

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