I've spent the last hour reading the Independent Police Conduct Authority's report into the initial "RoastBusters" investigation [PDF]. Its depressing reading, and it makes me very angry. It exposes a pattern of poor investigation by police and a repeated failure to connect cases, culminating in an absolutely perverse decision not to pursue charges of sexual conduct with young person under 16 because they thought the law could only be used against "consenting parties". As the IPCA points out, this is absolutely perverse:
it is perverse to conclude that a prosecution for sexual violation cannot be brought because there is insufficient evidence to prove lack of consent beyond reasonable doubt, but then to reject a prosecution under section 134 on the basis that it would imply the existence of consent. The reality is that a prosecution under section 134 says nothing about the presence or absence of consent, because it is simply irrelevant to the facts that need to be proved.And now, thanks to these poor investigative practices, the police can't prosecute anyone, because none of the victims will talk to them.
There's more failings. "At-risk sexual behaviour, alcohol abuse, and parental supervision" is apparently considered grounds for a CYFS referral in girls, but not boys. That's a toxic mindset right there. Two of the officers - Officers C and E - appear to have been absolutely crap at their jobs, and are specifically identified as failing to meet the police's investigative standards. Police PR is absolutely silent on what has been done about these officers, and in particular, whether they have been sacked - there's not even the usual bullshit about more training. But what's most disturbing is that these are all issues we've seen before, in the Police-rape cases. And despite a commission of inquiry recommending changes, and despite the police saying they have made them, nothing appears to have changed.
And through all of this, there's an obvious question: if the police were so crap at investigating these cases, are they also crap at others? How many other rapists are going free because police just can't be arsed doing their jobs properly? The IPCA specifically addresses this, calling it the failing of individual officers in an individual district, and saying that "the Authority has not found any evidence of ongoing and widespread poor practice nationally". Of course they didn't - because they didn't look. Instead, they leant their mana (such as it is) to protect the reputation of a police force which has manifestly failed to do their job. Because at the end of the day, that's the IPCA's job. Not to investigate, not to hold the police to account, but to protect them and the system they are part of. And as long as that is the case, things will never change.