Crime & the Law

John Worboys: Case against police is ‘wake up call’ to UK justice system

UK Supreme Court. Image: Tom Morris, licensed under CC ASA 3.0

Two victims of serial rapist John Worboys have won an historic case against the Met Police at the Supreme Court.

The court said that the police were guilty of ‘systemic and investigatory failures’ and ruled unanimously in favour of DSD and NBV, the two women who brought the case.

After the judgement was announced, DSD highlighted the impact of the police’s failure to act:

Had you done your job properly, there wouldn’t be 105 victims, there would be one. I can take the one. I can’t take the 105.

The ruling comes almost a year after the court heard the case in March 2017.

Article 3 of the Human Rights Act was a key factor in the court’s decision, because it outlines the state’s responsibility to protect citizens from ‘inhuman or degrading treatment’.

The High Court awarded DSD and NBV £41,000 compensation in 2014, but the Met Police and the Home Secretary – at the time, Theresa May – challenged the decision.

Recently, Theresa May has faced criticism following her remark that she ‘fully recognised the concerns’ of Worboy’s victims.

At the press conference following the judgement, DSD’s lawyer, Harriet Wistrich, said that this case is ‘very, very important’ and has ‘much wider repercussions’ for the UK justice system.

The Co-Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, Rachel Krys, described the decision as a ‘wake up call to the whole criminal justice system’.

Jodie Woodward, the Deputy Chair of Rape Crisis England and Wales, praised the two women for their ‘tenacity in the fight for justice’.

To put things into perspective, she told the press conference that her organisation receives around 4,000 calls per week, and that more than 67,000 individuals used their services between 2015 and 2016.

However, only around 15 per cent of people who experience sexual violence choose to report it to the police.

Lawyers believe that the ruling in favour of DSD and NBV is a big step forward in the recognition of the rights of victims of sexual violence.

Reporting by Rosie Lumley and Maddy Searle

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