The Guardian has an interview with the new head of the Met's Sapphire unit, Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Duthie. He says that pubs and clubs linked with a high incidence of sexual crimes, or taking place on the premises, will lose their licence in much the same way as a pub or club with a reputation for violence or drug use.
The Met also plan to go 'Al Capone' on men they strongly suspect of being rapists – Capone was jailed for tax evasion rather than any of his gangster activities, and the police hope to able to prosecute on possession of weapons or driving illegally if there's not enough evidence for a rape conviction. (We have a few qualms about that: if a separate offence is worthy of jail, then surely it should involve jail without the pressure of an unproven suspicion? Perhaps better rape investigation techniques would be a better idea.)
The Sapphire Unit has been in the news in the wrong way recently, with one detective pleading guilty to not looking into cases and falsifying records, and another under investigation for similar reasons. Following a rise in sexual offences between 2009-2011, the number of reported cases in London has fallen over the last year. That could be down to fewer offences being committed, or it could be down to fewer women feeling enough confidence in the police to report them. Duthie clearly means to send the message that Sapphire is back on women's side, but will it be enough?
Photo by Tom Radenz from the Londonist Flickr pool. Edit: following comments, we thought should make it clear that this photo comes from a Slutwalk, where women (and men) say that what they wear is no excuse for rape, sexual assault or harassment.