Detectives investigating historic sex crimes are still being trained to believe anyone who says they are a victim, despite being ordered to stop by a damning report into Scotland Yard’s bungled VIP paedophile ring investigation.
Senior officers were issued with new rules just last month by the College of Policing, which say that anyone who makes abuse claims should automatically be considered a ‘victim’, with ‘the intention that victims are believed’.
The advice ignores recommendations from retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques, who wrote a devastating report exposing how officers relentlessly pursued false claims of historic abuse by a fantasist known as ‘Nick’.
Sir Richard’s report on Scotland Yard’s investigation, Operation Midland, advised that ‘the instruction to believe a victim’s account should cease’.
There are increasing calls for Steve Rodhouse, the former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Met, to step down from his current £240,000-a-year role as deputy director of the National Crime Agency because of his failings
He said people who make allegations to police should be called complainants, not victims, so not to imply guilt. The report, commissioned by the Met, was handed to senior commanders in 2016 but was finally published in full on Friday.
It exposed the appalling failures of senior officers who believed Nick’s false allegations as they mounted a bungled £2.5 million investigation which ruined the lives of war hero Lord Bramall, former Home Secretary Lord Brittan and ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor.
‘Nick’ was later revealed to be paedophile Carl Beech, who has been jailed for 18 years after a court found his claims were lies.
Last night, Sir Richard reacted with concern, telling The Mail on Sunday: ‘Any basis that imposes an artificial state of mind on the investigator – which this plainly does – is unsound. This policy means that, from the outset, the suspect or the person named is disbelieved.
The advice ignores recommendations from retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques, who wrote a devastating report exposing how officers relentlessly pursued false claims of historic abuse by a fantasist known as ‘Nick’ (pictured)
‘It reverses the burden of proof and, to a limited extent, was responsible in the early stages for the debacle in Operation Midland.’
On Friday, three previously heavily censored chapters from Sir Richard’s report were published in full, prompting a barrage of criticism for senior officers linked to Midland.
There are increasing calls for Steve Rodhouse, the former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Met, to step down from his current £240,000-a-year role as deputy director of the National Crime Agency because of his failings.
The 80-page College of Policing document say that, even if an investigation is dropped, officers are told that ‘the victim should not be left feeling they have not been believed’.
The report, commissioned by the Met (Commissioner Cressida Dick pictured), was handed to senior commanders in 2016 but was finally published in full on Friday
But it does add that inquiries should include ‘testing’ accounts and gathering all evidence even if it ‘undermines the allegation’.
Daniel Janner QC, a barrister who is fighting unproven abuse claims made against his late father Lord Janner, said: ‘It is absolutely staggering that after all this time and everything we have learned about Nick and other fantasists that police are still sticking to this damaging policy of automatically believing people who claim they are a crime victim.
‘This policy can only be disastrous for the police and for genuine victims because it plays into the hands of dangerous fantasists.’
Police decided to automatically believe claims of sexual abuse in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, when it emerged that credible rape reports had been dismissed.
But the approach led to the Met notoriously describing as ‘credible and true’ the false allegations made by Beech.
The Home Office confirmed last night that its advice for all crimes reported to police is ‘the intention is that victims are believed.’
This seeks to ensure that those reporting crimes will be treated with empathy and their allegations will be taken seriously. Any investigation which follows is then taken forward with an open mind.’