The Metropolitan Police had a stated policy of starting from a position of believing Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, is reported as saying that she has rethought this policy and it is being abandoned
More details about the abandonment of the policy can be seen here in the Mail Online newspaper.
As an organisation that trains both police officers and other agencies in the interviewing of complainants of rape and other serious offences, we understand the delicate balance that has to be maintained between ensuring due process for the accused, and giving complainants the confidence to speak to the police and prosecuting agencies.
From experience, we know that rape and other sexual offences in particular can be amongst the most difficult to prove as it is often one word against another. This is exacerbated whenever a complainant feels that he or she is not believed, and their allegations are not being taken sufficiently seriously enough.
That said, you only have to read the newspaper reports of the case of 'Nick' and the Westminster abuse ring claims, to see the problems that can arise from an unthinking acceptance of whatever a complainant says.
What we train investigators is that they should have consideration for any complainant, and not allow their prejudices or opinions cloud their judgement or affect their actions, whether for or against the complaint itself. Rather they should see themselves as independent gatherers of fact, whilst treating any complainant with professionalism and an appropriate level of compassion. What we teach is that all complainants need to be shown that their complaint will be treated seriously, but that the investigator concerned will follow any evidence wherever it leads.
Some reading this may also have noticed no use the word 'victim' (until now). That is quite deliberate and is part of the mindset that we seek to instil in investigators. One reason for this is to help maintain the independence of views as mentioned above, the second is that (particularly in sexual offences in our experience) many people do not like to be labelled with the term 'victim', and referring to them as a complainant is a more satisfactory word to use.
We therefore wholeheartedly agree with the change of policy, and only lament that it became policy in the first place. All complaints of such serious nature deserve to be listened to and investigated, but it does nobody any favours to start from a perspective of automatically believing one side against another. How many complainants have now been put off coming forward as a result of the negative publicity following the collapse of the case of 'Nick' and others, and how many suspects have had their lives turned upside down by spurious complaints that, properly investigated, may well have been more quickly resolved?