Evidence in rape cases was destroyed after fridge broke down in heatwave, Casey report reveals

·2 min read
Evidence in rape cases was destroyed after fridge broke down in heatwave, Casey report reveals

Rape cases being investigated by Met detectives had to be dropped because a freezer holding vital evidence broke down, a review of the force by Baroness Louise Casey has revealed.

The damning report lifts the lid on the chaotic way in which physical evidence was handled as it describes how rape victims had been let down by Britain’s biggest police force.

One officer who worked on the Sapphire team, which investigates rape and other sexual offences, detailed failures which would have potentially allowed sexual offenders to walk free.

She told how freezers containing evidence which needed to preserve physical evidence were so packed that it took three officers to shut them. She claimed that countless rape kits with evidence were spoiled by the way in which they were stored.

The report says: “G spoke about her experience of working on a Sapphire team investigating rape and other sexual offences, and the resourcing issues they faced.

“She told the Review that the unit’s freezers, which held and preserved evidence obtained from victims and survivors of sexual violence including swabs, blood, urine and underwear, would be so full it would take three officers to close them: one person to push the door closed, one person to hold it shut, and one to secure the lock.

“All the fridges used for rape kits were in bad shape, packed and ruining evidence. In the heatwave in 2022, G said that one freezer broke down and all of the evidence had to be destroyed because it could no longer be used.

“G said a general email had been sent round to this effect and that it meant that all those cases of alleged rape would be dropped.

“G also said she had “lost count” of the number of times she had asked a colleague where the necessary evidence was before being told that it had been lost.”

The officer also alleged that the attitudes of some officers towards investigations into sexual offences were “deeply concerning”.

The report adds: “G told the Review there were deeply concerning attitudes held by some officers who worked on investigating rape and sexual offences.

“She spoke of one occasion where she was discussing a violent rape with a police officer who disagreed with her about whether the case was rape at all. She said he illustrated his point by discussing the incident as if it had taken place between him and her.”

Another quipped while dealing with an historical rape allegation: “Well if you’d told me 10 years ago, I’d get to talk about sex all day I’d never have believed it”.

G also claimed that officers were told to delete WhatsApp messages during meetings about the internal campaign Not In My Met, designed to encourage officers and staff to speak out about discrimination.

The review is fiercely critical of Britain’s biggest police force which concludes it may have more officers like killer Wayne Couzens and serial rapist David Carrick.