This is the joint website of  Women Against Rape and Black Women's Rape Action Project. Both organisations are based on self-help and provide support, legal information and advocacy. We campaign for justice and protection for all women and girls, including asylum seekers, who have suffered sexual, domestic and/or racist violence.

WAR was founded in 1976. It has won changes in the law, such as making rape in marriage a crime, set legal precedents and achieved compensation for many women. BWRAP was founded in 1991. It focuses on getting justice for women of colour, bringing out the particular discrimination they face. It has prevented the deportation of many rape survivors. Both organisations are multiracial.




Taxi rapes case lays police failures bare

In the Media

John Worboys's victims were let down by a careless and prejudiced police investigation. It's an all too familiar story

Lisa Longstaff
Comment is Free Wednesday 20 January 2010

DSC04318LisaGDN.JPGThe young victim of convicted rapist John Worboys said it all: "If something like this had happened in a private business, people would have been sacked. I just do not see how these people can carry on in the police."

The report from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) on what went wrong with the Worboys police investigation is once again a catalogue of carelessness and prejudice: evidence not gathered, witnesses not interviewed and, most importantly, bias against victims.

They say the police response indicates a "mindset" that a black-cab driver would not commit such offences. But what about the mindset that all those women who had reported attacks by a cabbie were lying?

The IPCC sanctions speak volumes: two "written warnings" and three officers issued with "words of advice". Compare this with the devastating effects on the women whose rape could have been prevented if earlier complainants had been believed.

Since Women Against Rape started campaigning in 1976, we have seen many "operational changes". The PR has certainly improved. Sapphire, the specialist rape unit that handled Worboys and a number of other high-profile cases, was hyped as a major improvement when it came in. Now it too is being restructured.

But while most rapists continue to get away with it, women who report rape are being prosecuted.

Over the past year women have come to us who were pressured to withdraw their complaint; even more worryingly, many were charged with making false allegations. Some were vindicated, others are in prison. Is this an attempt to improve the appalling conviction rate of 6.5% by reducing the number of reports?

A few weeks ago a sex worker reported an attack by a gang of men who poured petrol on her premises and threatened to set it alight. She now faces charges for brothel-keeping, while the men remain at large to attack other women. And while Sapphire teams tell us they haven't enough officers to chase up witnesses, or even to take statements, kerb-crawlers are spied on from helicopters.

It has long been acknowledged that the more rapes are written off, the better police statistics look. While "no-criming" for rape was ruled out years ago, recent BBC research found that 17% of reported rapes in London are dismissed in this way; 45% in Northumbria.

The mother of the 15-year-old Southwark victim (another investigation the IPCC condemned) commented: "They say lessons have been learned, make a few recommendations, retrain a few officers. It's all so patronising to the victims."

When we met with the IPCC we complained that they seem unwilling to act decisively. Their independence from the police has always been in question. These recommendations are a further example of that.

The police will not change unless they are held to account. Who will act on women's behalf?


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John Worboys victim says Met officers 'laughed' at her  (on