Monday, May 9, 2011

Police Unfairly Criticized for Rejecting a Significant Percentage of Sexual Assault Claims

On May 1, the Sidney Morning Herald screeched:  "POLICE rejected a third of sexual assault reports in south-western Sydney last year - and at least half of those might have been genuine crimes, a statewide audit has found." The newspaper continued: "Of the 91 sexual assaults reported to Bankstown police from October 2009 to September last year, 30 were rejected." And: "In half the cases there was no clear evidence that it was a false report."

Well, it turns out the hand-wringing was unfounded.  The persons who prepared the study now admit that the reasons the particular police department rejected so many sexual assault claims were perfectly valid.  An official conceded: “We went through the reports of sexual assault that had been rejected and it became clear there were perfectly good reasons for rejection. In one case, for example, investigation by police had revealed three lots of CCTV footage showing that the alleged victim of a sexual assault had never been at any of the locations where she was allegedly sexually assaulted."

So, why the initial Chicken Little report?  The information regarding the rejections was located in a section of the police computer system to which the persons doing the study had no access.