I read the section in the Tory Manifesto at page 44 with some interest.
Headed ‘Standing up for victims’ it reassured us that ” We will ensure that victims of crime are supported at every stage of the criminal justice system. We will enshrine victim’s entitlements in law, making clear what level of service they should expect from the police, courts and criminal justice system”.
All very reassuring and something which no one could possibly disagree with. Victims of crime, particularly serious crime deserve the unqualified support of any government, should they find themselves harmed or damaged by a crime or let down by any aspect of the criminal justice system.
This is what, for instance two of the victims of John Worboys sickening crimes expected from the courts. Indeed, the courts delivered when in 2014 the High Court found that Scotland Yard had a duty under the Human Rights Act to investigate serious violence against victims and could be held accountable by the courts if they failed to do so.
The decision was upheld in a strong Court of Appeal, by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson and Lord Justice Kitchin, observing that it was “inescapable” that the High Court should find a breach of Article 3, the prohibition of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, against the police.
Warboys, otherwise known as the ‘Black Cab Rapist’ was gaoled for life in 2009 for viciously raping the two women. In fact, police now suspect that he carried out similar attacks on over 100 other women, with first reports emerging in 2002.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission identified serious mistakes made by the Met Police investigations into Worboys which allowed him to continue being a threat to women. The IPCC made 46 recommendations and came to a series of damning conclusions about the police investigation, they included, failing to search Warboys home which later revealed evidence linking him to a series of attacks and establishing a clear modus operandi, serious errors of judgment, the losing of a file, failing to interview key witnesses and insensitivity.
The criticism and failings were damning.
At this point though the victims had received some sort of justice for the sickening crimes committed against them and a degree of recognition and reparation for the crass failures of the police investigation. I suppose that it could be said that in the words of the Tory Manifesto, these victims of crime were stood up for, supported and vindicated by the courts.
That was until earlier this year.
In a rare step, the decision of the Court of Appeal  EWCA 646 was taken to the Supreme Court, but rarer still, although it was taken by the police, it had, what turned out to be the critical support of the Home Secretary, Theresa May, yes, she of ‘Standing up for victims’. The grounds of appeal, drafted by the police were struggling to pass the threshold for the Supreme Court to become seized of the matter. Bulked up by the Home Office, the victims of Warboys crimes were now finding themselves hauled up before the court again.
The case, equally enthusiastically supported by Amber Rudd, who took over from Theresa May as Home Secretary was before the Supreme Court in March and we await the judgment.
The essence of the Home Office case by their intervention against the victims is that the lower courts were wrong to find that the police had a duty under the Human Rights Act to investigate serious violence against victims and could be held accountable if they failed to do so. Rather, Theresa May upon her intervention, argued that victims should not be allowed to use the Human Rights Act to sue the police and that the Metropolitan Police duties to victims are restricted to putting in place the necessary structure to investigate crime, but did not extend to the execution of any particular investigation.
So it is, that taxpayers money, no doubt drawn from a Tory ‘Money Tree’ is being used to perpetuate a case against victims of crime.
The significant and steadfast support by Theresa May, Amber Rudd and the Home Office of the police case against these victims, argues at its heart that the Human Rights Act should not be used to challenge particular police investigations. It shines a light upon the opinions of May, Rudd and the Tories on their dislike of the intrusive power of the Human Rights Act to challenge power and no doubt gives a clear indication that any proposed Tory Bill of Rights will certainly exclude future victims of crime seeking the judgment of the court in the way these two victims have.
One victim said “The experience of being disbelieved and failed by the police was as bad, if not worse, than being a victim of Worboys”.
The Home Office said “We do not routinely comment on on-going legal proceedings.”
May be, but would Theresa May like to comment upon whether her approach to this case is in any way consistent with her Manifesto on victims rights?
I am happy to meet her on the secluded Industrial Estate of her choice.