Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, is in complete disagreement with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan Howe who has suggested that police should not believe sex abuse complainants, in contrast to the way every other complainant is dealt with.
He has said: “There is a grave danger at the moment with the advice that is around that there is a tendency to always believe any complaint that is made and that’s not wise for any good investigator.”
Vera Baird said: “The Met Commissioner has been criticised for the investigations into two peers whose names were published at an early stage before there can have been evidence to justify a charge, because no charges were ever brought. The key problem was the irresponsible, presumably glory-seeking, publication of their names, not that complaints should not be believed in sexual abuse cases in the same way that a burglary victim is believed and their complaint investigated.
“Thousands of victims of sexual abuse have been denied justice through the attitude the Met Commissioner now advocates. Sexual abuse is extremely difficult to report, because of its intimate nature and its undermining impact on victims. They have to be told that police will not doubt them as they have habitually done in the past but will believe them as they do in any other kind of complaint, ensure that they get support and investigate the case thoroughly.
“In Northumbria we have been judged highly for our investigation of sexual exploitation and domestic abuse. We intend to continue to rely on what complainants say and to give them support. We will investigate thoroughly, not rushing to publicise inappropriately, simply doing a thorough policing job to determine whether a case should go forward to the CPS. We encourage any person who is suffering from any kind of crime to come forward to report it and they will get help.”