Metropolitan Police officers could be moved from frontline duties
Police officers could be moved from frontline duties in order to tackle the growing crisis associated with disclosure in rape cases, the Met Commissioner has suggested.
Scotland Yard is currently reviewing 600 sex assault cases amid fears that scores of investigations could have been tainted by a failure to fully investigate and disclose digital evidence.
But Cressida Dick has warned that the extra workload this is placing on her officers means she will have to consider moving resources from other areas of policing.
Police and prosecutors have come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks following the collapse of several rape trials in which vital evidence contained on mobile phones and other digital devices was either not examined or not shared with the defence.
Last month the Met apologised to Liam Allan, a student who was charged with 12 counts of rape and sexual assault.
The trial collapsed after three days however when it emerged that a disc containing messages from the complainant in which she admitted pestering him for sex, had not been shared with defence lawyers.
Speaking on LBC Radio, Ms Dick said she took that matter "very seriously" but said the vast amount of material that had to be examined during investigations made the task extremely difficult.
The Commissioner said over the coming months and years she anticipated that the force would have to devote considerable time and resources into getting disclosure right.
She said: "This is something that’s causing I know, the public a lot of concern, not just in London, but beyond. Something I’m taking very seriously indeed. I’d like to say that I’m absolutely clear, my officers do act fairly, they do act impartially.
"It is a very, very complicated system that we’re working in and there are, as you’ve probably read, ever increasing amounts of digital media that the officers have to look at, particularly in cases where the two parties, as in most serious sexual offences, for example domestic violence, child abuse investigations, know each other, so they have to work their way through a mountain of material and this is becoming more and more difficult. So at one level yes there is a question about resources."
Asked if she had the resources to do the job effectively, Ms Dick replied: "You ask any police chief, they always want more resources. You can’t do something for nothing, so I will have to move resources from another area."
She went on: "The primary thing we must do is act fairly and bring people to justice in a proper and legitimate way."