A female mugging victim has claimed that a ‘flirtatious’ Metropolitan Police officer asked her out on a date while taking her statement ten years ago and allegedly telling her that he was ‘as determined in his pursuit of criminals as he was of beautiful women’.
The woman, who spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme anonymously and was given protective screens at Detective Chief Inspector James Mason’s misconduct hearing this year, claimed the officer asked her ‘invasive’ questions with ‘sexual overtones’ after she was physically assaulted by four men during a daylight mugging in London in October 2011.
DCI Mason was found to have breached the standards of professional behaviour in respect of authority, respect and courtesy, discreditable conduct and integrity at a misconduct hearing on October 5. He will remain on the force despite the allegations being proven against him.
In an interview with the Today programme this morning, the woman claimed the then detective sergeant asked her whether she had a boyfriend at home, what she wore to work, and whether he could take her out for dinner. She had been attacked while buying groceries on her way home.
After rejecting his advances, DCI Mason gave the woman his police email address. The next day, the mugging victim followed up on the case by asking if they could take fingerprints from her phone. Instead, he allegedly replied that he could take photographs of her injuries.
When the woman told him that he had ‘no shame’, DCI Mason allegedly told her that ‘coming on to victims is positively encouraged’, before adding: ‘It’s all part of the friendly and accessible face of the Met Police.’
She told the Today programme that she didn’t report the detective for ten years, during which time she sank into a depression and suffered such a crisis of trust in the authorities that she didn’t report an abusive partner to the police for fear it would invite ‘unwanted behaviour’ from serving officers.
Remarking on last week’s misconduct hearing, the woman said she was initially ‘relieved’ – but then felt ‘disregarded’ after she learned that DCI Mason will keep his position within Scotland Yard. Responding to MailOnline’s request for comment, Scotland Yard referred this publication to a statement released after DCI Mason’s misconduct hearing.
The interview comes amid growing pressure on under-fire Met chief Cressida Dick to improve vetting procedures in Scotland Yard following the shocking rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving officer Wayne Couzens.
A female mugging victim has claimed that a ‘flirtatious’ Metropolitan Police officer asked her out on a date while taking her statement ten years ago, allegedly telling her that he was ‘as determined in his pursuit of criminals as he was of beautiful women’ (stock image)
An independent inquiry announced by Home Secretary Priti Patel will investigate the ‘systemic’ failures that allowed Wayne Couzens to be employed as a police officer despite reports of indecent exposure before he murdered Sarah Everard
Worst-performing police force solves just one in 140 rapes: Fury at ‘pathetic and terrifying’ prosecution rates as victims face postcode lottery in battle for justice
Just one in 140 rapes are being solved by Britain’s worst performing police force, as official figures show that a victim’s chances of their attacker being prosecuted can double depending on which side of a street they live.
Only 0.7 per cent of rapes reported to Wiltshire Police resulted in a charge or summons, whereas Durham – the most successful force – had more than 10 times the success rate in bringing prosecutions at 7.1 per cent, according to Home Office data for the three years from 2018-19 to 2020-21.
Astonishingly, Cleveland – the police force neighbouring Durham – solved just half as many rapes during the same period, the figures compiled by Police Federation researcher Gavin Hales and seen by the Telegraph show.
Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird slammed the ‘pathetic and terrifying’ figures and warned that women were being deterred from reporting street harassment because of the ‘appallingly low’ rape prosecution rates.
She also urged the Government to put violence against women on a par with terrorism, county lines drug-dealing and child sexual exploitation by including it in its national Strategic Policing Requirements.
‘There is no difference between rape in Durham and rape in Wiltshire or Cleveland. What is different is the effort and skill put into investigating and prosecuting rape by some forces over others. None of these figures are anything but appallingly low. There is no crime with prosecution percentages as pathetic and terrifying as these across the board,’ Dame Vera told the paper.
A Wiltshire Police spokesman told MailOnline it had been ‘working hard’ to improve outcomes, with the level of rapes resulting in a charge rising from 3.8 per cent in October last year to 4.1 per cent this month.
Baroness Casey will lead a review into Scotland Yard’s culture and vetting processes which will re-examine historical sexual misconduct allegations involving officers still serving in the force.
A separate independent inquiry announced by Home Secretary Priti Patel last week will investigate the ‘systemic’ failures that allowed Couzens to be employed as a police officer despite reports of indecent exposure and other signs he could be dangerous.
Speaking to the Today programme, the woman said: ‘I could see that the detective sergeant that was going to take my statement was just a little bit overly friendly and a little bit flirtatious. I wasn’t sure whether he was just trying to sort of strike up a rapport with me or whether it was something else. But then his questions were quite invasive and with quite heavy sexual overtones.
‘He asked whether I had a boyfriend at home, he asked what sort of thing I wear to work because I’d expressed that I was working somewhere in particular where you have to wear a quite, little bit of a revealing uniform, so he was asking questions in detail about that. He asked whether he could take me for dinner, seeing as I was on my way to buy ingredients for dinner at the time that I was mugged.
‘Obviously he could see that I’d been physically assaulted by men and I guess I felt targeted by someone else, someone I was hoping would protect me but perhaps had ulterior motives. Obviously in person I said ‘no, I don’t really want you to take me for dinner, I don’t want you to do anything but help me with this case’. At which point he gave me his police email address and I followed up with an email the next day because I was feeling really quite angry and upset at being assaulted pretty much on my doorstep and I wanted to catch these people because I’d been informed that they hadn’t been caught.
‘So I reached out to him to ask could we take fingerprints from my phone, is there anything we can do – and he responded saying no, there’s nothing we can do but I’m very happy to take photographs of your injuries if you’d like me to do. I can’t remember word for word exactly what I said but it was something like ‘ha ha that’s a little bit inappropriate, you’ve assumed that I’m unaffected by this crime to be saying that’.
‘And he said something like ‘please have faith in my detective ability, I am as determined in my pursuit of criminals as I am of beautiful women’. At the time I was quite feisty and I sort of said you’ve got no shame, you could be fired for this. And he said ‘actually, coming on to victims is positively encouraged. It’s all part of the friendly and accessible face of the Met Police’.’
The woman said that the fate of Miss Everard in March prompted her to finally complain about DCI Mason. Asked if she now trusts the police, she said: ‘I feel safer putting something on social media and saying help me than I do calling the police really.
‘And in the time since 2011, I’ve had a number of different occasions when I definitely should have called the police. I entered into a relationship which became quite violent and abusive and there were times where I really needed some support and help desperately, but I thought actually I don’t want to invite any more unwanted behaviour into my home.
‘My opinion is that the police force attracts potentially violent men and then enables them to enact that violence and then protects them when they follow through with it. I don’t think at all actually that they deal with it in the right way.
‘He knew he was writing from email@example.com, perhaps just as Wayne Couzens was using his identity card. I don’t see any difference. Obviously the crime is completely different, but it’s still a sense of being empowered by an authority that protects you.’
In a statement on the hearing, a Met Police spokesman said: ‘The panel found he made comments to a victim of an attempted robbery while taking her witness statement that were inappropriately personal.
The interview comes amid growing pressure on under-fire Met chief Cressida Dick to improve vetting procedures in Scotland Yard
In March this year, Couzens used his police-issue handcuffs and warrant card to stage a fake arrest of Miss Everard, a 33-year-old marketing manager, before killing her
‘These included questions about her personal life, relationships and whether she would like to go for dinner that evening. The hearing found that subsequent emails the officer sent the victim on 24 October 2011 were also inappropriate and an attempt to establish a relationship with a person he knew to be a victim of crime.’
Met Detective Chief Superintendent Donna Smith said: ‘The behaviour of DCI Mason was unacceptable and unprofessional. A victim of crime is already likely to feel vulnerable, they should never be made to feel worse by the actions of a police officer.
‘DCI Mason abused his position as a police officer and the victim’s trust. I want to thank the woman concerned for having the courage to come forward, it cannot have been easy for her… DCI Mason has been given a final written warning for three years – this is very serious and means that any future misconduct during this time could result in dismissal.’
It comes as almost 2,000 police and community support officers have been accused of sex offences including rape, sexual assault and child sex offences since 2017, official data has revealed amid the outcry over Sarah’s horrific abduction and murder by Couzens.
Do rogue officers face justice? Misconduct hearings explained
There are two types of public hearings for the most serious cases of misconduct.
Chief constables can hold accelerated hearings when evidence is irrefutable, often because an officer has pleaded guilty to a crime.
Open hearings, in which officers are named and the public can attend, are the starting point of legislation and Home Office guidance.
Officers can be granted anonymity, or hearings can be private, because of extenuating circumstances. These can include national security, the risk of prejudicing a court case or risks to welfare of parties.
Home Office guidance states: ‘Blanket restrictions should be avoided and careful consideration should be given to which parts of the hearing can remain open.’
The allegations – made mostly against men – include more than 370 of sexual assault, nearly 100 of rape and 18 of child sex offences, according to Freedom of Information figures – and just eight per cent of those accusations led to a dismissal, 39 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales said.
Police officers across the country accused of serious offences – including having sex with a female colleague on police premises, sleeping with a drug dealer and even taking cash from a dead person – have been granted anonymity after being dismissed or disciplined in secret hearings.
Forces are reportedly holding hearings in private despite misconduct legislation being designed to maintain ‘transparency where possible’. They are reportedly sending out ambiguous and anonymised misconduct outcomes that fail to detail the officer’s rank and nature of their offending and have blocked journalists from making the argument for open proceedings.
Official figures seen by the Times show forces also delete public misconduct outcomes relating to the most serious offenders, including the notice that detailed the sacking of serving Met officer Wayne Couzens, who kidnapped, raped and murdered Miss Everard in March.
The Times reported that in the past month there were more than 40 misconduct outcome notices published relating to officers and staff in England and Wales – and nearly half of them were anonymised.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that there have been 1,147 hearings since 2018. Forces were unable to say whether 502 of them were held in public or private. Of the remaining 645 hearings, one in four were held in private, the paper added.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council told the paper: ‘Without question, it’s expected and important in terms of accountability and public trust for every force to demonstrate the greatest levels of transparency possible around misconduct hearings and outcomes.’
The body said dismissed officers were placed on the barred list. However, the list is only searchable by the name of the officer, which is not possible in cases where they are given anonymity.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition – which includes organisations such as Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid – said few officers faced ‘any meaningful consequences’ for sexual misconduct against women and girls.
The group’s deputy director Deniz Ugur called for a radical overhaul of how police respond to violence against women, adding: ‘Ultimately, we need to address these widespread institutional failings before we can even begin to address women’s confidence in the police.’
A separate study from Bournemouth University found there were 514 proven cases of sexual misconduct across 33 forces in the past five years – the most common of which was ‘abuse of position for a sexual purpose’.
According to the Bournemouth research, the most common sexual misconduct offence involved officers allegedly using their power to form a relationship with a victim for sexually motivated purposes.
One such officer was detective constable Jatinder Bunger who was jailed for ten months in May. The former Lancashire Police officer admitted sending sexual messages to victims and obtaining intimate images from the phones of vulnerable women – including a rape victim.
The research also found that, of the 514 proven cases of sexual misconduct, 15 per cent involved officers who were at sergeant rank or higher.
Thirty officers were at a senior level of inspector or above – with the highest-ranking being an assistant chief constable. Separate data shows there were more than 500 claims of sexual offences against officers and staff at Scotland Yard between 2016 and 2020.
The findings are the latest blow for the police service and come just a week after the Mail revealed that nearly 1,000 officers and staff have been probed for posting offensive social media content.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Louise Rolfe told Channel 4’s Cops on Trial: Dispatches: ‘We absolutely must, in policing, get to the bottom of what might have been behind these cases.
‘We know, very sadly, a small number of people are attracted to policing because of the power, the control and the opportunity it affords them. Our vetting processes are designed to root those people out.’
The Independent Office for Police Conduct said it was down to individual forces to stamp out abuses of police powers.