BY JAMES TWOMEY
Two police officers did not believe a 15-year-old girl who had been raped and tried to convince her not to report the crime.
PC Michael Silverthorne and PC Stephen Tanner, from the South Area Command Unit of the Met, have been sanctioned for the way they handled an interview with the teenage girl a few hours after she had been raped in a car park in Croydon.
Body-worn video footage of their conversation with the girl on February 26, 2017 showed PC Silverthorn making incorrect statements about the process of reporting rape, and PC Tanner expressing doubt over her story.
PC Silverthorne repeatedly told the girl that going through with the allegation of rape would be a very traumatic ordeal and questioned if she was sure she wanted to go through with it.
He made a number of incorrect statements, telling her she must have all of a list of forensic tests conducted, that she would need to attend the Old Bailey and stand in the dock to give her account, and pressured her that she must make her decision in the next hour.
He also used the word allegation on more than 10 occasions and the word rape a number of times, which is contrary to the Met’s policy.
He also failed to record her account as is required as a first responder.
PC Tanner spoke with two separate colleagues over his radio shortly after they arrived at the address where he expressed doubts over the credibility of the girl’s story and also failed to record her account.
The girl’s attacker was arrested and charged, and in September 2017 was convicted of rape and jailed for seven-and-a-half years.
At a misconduct hearing which ended on October 3, the independent panel found both officers to have breached some standards of professional behaviour and gave PC Silverthorne a final written warning for gross misconduct and PC Tanner a written warning for misconduct.
IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: “The conduct of these officers in how they spoke with a 15-year-old girl who it was later proved had been raped by a stranger only hours earlier was concerning.
“The independent panel found that the officers did not intentionally set out to dissuade the girl but that their failings were serious, and could have damaged public confidence.
“The officers’ demeanour clearly suggested they did not believe the girl at a time when her account should have been formally recorded.
“An individual should have their allegation recorded with an objective investigation to follow.
It is of credit to this teenager, and the MPS officers who took this investigation on afterwards, that the rape was investigated properly and the offender subsequently jailed.
“The actions of the two officers might have prevented that from happening.”