Police officers making statements related to sex abuse cases have been told to always include a reference to “brave victims” and to always invite other “victims” to come forward with more allegations, safe in the knowledge that they will be assumed to be telling the truth, even though they may well have other motives.
The result is that police are being inundated with allegations from the distant past as well as more recent accusations, many of which may be completely unfounded.
In another populist move, police now routinely speak of “victims” rather than “accusers” or “complainants” after criticism from campaign groups that people were being discouraged from reporting genuine cases of abuse for fear that they would not be believed.
The reality is however that whatever one may feel, nobody is entitled to be referred to as a “victim” unless and until it has been proven that they have in fact been abused; until then, they are merely an “accuser” or “complainant”.
As TheOpinionSite.org has previously pointed out, the law dictates that those who have successfully convinced a court that they have been abused will most likely receive significant compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority or have the option to sue the (often very wealthy) alleged perpetrator.
However, the compensation, rather than being paid to those providing appropriate medical, psychological or counselling services, is instead paid straight into the bank account of the person receiving it.
Senior barristers have recently pointed out that because in abuse cases hard evidence is not required for a conviction, merely a “pattern of events that is similar in a number of cases”, the number of allegations to police has increased dramatically as individuals become aware of the potential to receive compensation payments whilst remaining completely anonymous, protected and safe from criticism.
At present, there is no anonymity for those accused but there is life-long anonymity for accusers.
Further concern is now being expressed over the manner in which police forces are exploiting the currently highly emotive state of public opinion in order to repair the damage done to police reputations in the wake of the Jimmy Savile affair.
Every police statement following a successful prosecution, every statement regarding an arrest must now include an invitation for more accusers to come forward with any allegation relating to abuse.
The recent arrest of the Deputy Speaker, Nigel Evans is a case in point.
Not only did police apparently tip off the press that they were going to arrest Mr Evans in order that the proceedings could be captured on film for public consumption but they also made a statement that included an invitation for others to come forward with any claims of abuse they may have.
The police statements in such cases now always include the words (or similar):
“We take all allegations of a sexual nature extremely seriously and understand how difficult it can be for victims to have the confidence to come forward.
“We would encourage anyone who has experienced sexual abuse, no matter how long ago, or who has information about it, to have the confidence to report it to us knowing that we will take it seriously, deal with it sensitively and investigate it thoroughly.”
These very same words can be heard up and down the country now every time there is an allegation, investigation or court statement regarding sexual abuse, be it current or “historic”.
The police are not alone in using this new tactic either. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is just as guilty of encouraging false accusations by the endless repetition of:
“We have carefully considered the evidence and believe that there is sufficient evidence for a successful prosecution and that that it is in the public interest to prosecute.”
The fact is that there is often little, if any evidence to consider in the first place other than the word of the accuser.
The CPS are also going out of their way to garner popular support in these cases.
After the conviction of Stuart Hall, Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for north-west England and who clearly enjoys being on television, described Mr Hall as an ‘opportunistic predator’, saying he established a pattern of behaviour that was ‘unlawful’ and for which no innocent explanation could be offered.
TheOpinionSite.org believes that it inappropriate for a senior prosecutor to express a personal opinion as part of a public statement, especially before sentencing of the defendant has taken place and where the sentence could well be affected by such a statement – even if it is not meant to be so affected.
The CPS prosecutor also appeared to be disingenuous in his claim that the alleged victims “…did not know each other”.
It later came to light that in fact most of the 13 alleged victims apparently did know each other and that in some cases, their parents were friends of Mr Hall.
Only two girls were seemingly not actually known to each other and, in our opinion, the prosecutor was either mistaken – in which case he should have corrected his statement – or was simply being dishonest in order to attract favourable publicity.
Others have expressed surprise that Mr Hall admitted’ the offences having previously denied them.
Actually, there is nothing remotely surprising about this given that the CPS dropped a charge of rape in return for his admissions of guilt to the lesser offences.
The applicable law of the time (which must be applied in sentencing) provides for a maximum sentence of two years for Indecent Assault; the offence of Rape on the other hand does – and always has done – carry a maximum sentence of life Imprisonment.
Which option would any sensible person under immense pressure choose when knowing that a jury would find them guilty in any case, regardless of the lack of any hard evidence? Admit the indecent assaults with its two year sentence or be tried for rape and risk life imprisonment?
This ‘unofficial plea-bargaining’ is applied by the CPS in cases every day and is allowed to continue because it is ‘politically expedient’; from the point of view of the authorities and the campaigning groups that support them, it is better to have everyone accused of a sexual offence convicted for something rather than a lack of real evidence causing the case to fall apart.
According to the Prosecutor’s Code of Practice, the CPS, in order to bring a case to prosecution, have to apply two main tests:
- Prosecutors must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against each suspect on each charge. They must consider what the defence case may be, and how it is likely to affect the prospects of conviction.
- In every case where there is sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution, prosecutors must go on to consider whether a prosecution is required in the public interest.
In terms of “the public interest”, the following questions must be asked:
- How serious is the offence committed?
- What is the level of culpability of the suspect?
- What are the circumstances of and the harm caused to the victim?
- Was the suspect under the age of 18 at the time of the offence?
- What is the impact on the community?
- Is prosecution a proportionate response?
- Do sources of information require protecting?
In reality, any likelihood of a “successful conviction” comes not from “real” evidence but from the fact that there is now not a jury in the land that will not convict the defendant in a case of alleged sexual abuse, particularly if the alleged victim was a child at the time of the alleged offence.
In cases of sexual abuse allegedly involving children, senior barristers and even some judges now privately admit that it has become impossible to mount an effective defence in such cases. Juries today convict on emotion rather than fact because there is no evidence other that the word of the accuser.
The police and CPS said in the case of Jimmy Savile that “…where so many people who do not know each other all say the same thing, it must be true.”
In fact, if one reads the report into Savile presented by the police and the NSPCC, it is nothing more than a list of accusations; there is no proof or evidence present at all.
In any event, this absurd statement by the police misses the point entirely.
Any reasonable person can see that, given the amount of information that was in the public domain (especially the tabloids), anyone with an agenda could have simply copied any of the well-publicised statements and gone to the police claiming to be a ‘victim’; no doubt with their bank account number in hand.
This practice of using ‘patterns of behaviour’ as supposed proof of wrongdoing is known as ‘Similar Fact Evidence’, a nasty piece of Law dreamt up in the 1980s in order to convict people of serious sexual offences where no real evidence otherwise exists.
‘Similar Fact Evidence’ is in reality probably more responsible for innocent people being sent to jail for alleged sexual offences than anything else.
That innocent people are often sent to jail is not disputed. The government itself has previously stated in Parliament it estimates up to 10,000 of those in jail – about 11% – are probably innocent.
TheOpinionSite.org believes that both policemen and CPS officers should stop trying to ingratiate themselves with the public by expressing open invitations to people to come forward on the basis that they will automatically be believed.
Anonymity should also be given to the accused at least until they are charged and possibly even until they have been convicted.
The Director of Public prosecutions, Keir Starmer recently said he wanted more prosecutions for sexual abuse and wanted the police and CPS to concentrate on testing the suspect, not the honesty of the alleged victim.
By making this statement, he has knowingly and willingly opened the door to an endless stream of greedy, often vindictive individuals seeking a chance to make easy money or who for personal reasons wish to destroy the lives of others.
Starmer has also devalued the claims of genuine victims of abuse and guaranteed even more miscarriages of justice, all in the cause of self-aggrandisement and populist policies.
He has at a stroke destroyed any possibility of a fair trial in sex abuse cases and obliterated any chance of someone accused of a sexual offence against a child ever being presumed innocent until proven guilty – despite such a presumption of innocence being required by law.
The police and CPS are equally to blame.
They both say that they need to encourage other witnesses or “victims” to come forward in order to build a case against the accused and it seems that police officers in particular will now do anything in order to achieve this goal, even if by doing so they destroy innocent lives, ruin reputations, rip families apart and in some cases, cost individuals their life.
TheOpinionSite.org would suggest that instead of ‘touting for business’, police stop taking the easy route and get down to some hard work by trying to find some real evidence instead of just relying on the alleged victim’s word and that of their friends – which may be true but, in a rapidly growing number of cases, is proving to be false, vindictive, driven by greed and wholly manufactured for personal gain or gratification.
If the police disagree with us, they are always most welcome to comment below.
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(The CPS Code for Crown Prosecutors can be found HERE)