Police Challenge Article 3 Ruling In Supreme Court

Next Monday and Tuesday 13 and 14 March, women’s groups will intervene in a hearing in the Supreme Court, which will decide whether the police owe an actionable legal duty to investigative the crimes of ‘black cab rapist’, John Worboys.

The appeal arises from an historic claim brought by two victims of the serial rapist John Worboys against the Metropolitan Police, for a series of systemic and individual failings which left Worboys free to continue his crimes.

The women brought their claims under Article 3 of the Human Rights Act, which prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment, including rape. They claim the police have a duty under Article 3 to investigate credible allegations of rape and in their case the police’s numerous failings amount to an unlawful breach of this duty.

First the High Court and then the Court of Appeal agreed with the women and upheld their claims. But having fought the case from the outset, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, now with the support of the Home Secretary, is appealing to the Supreme Court.

Sarah Ricca of Deighton Pierce Glynn represents the four women’s organisations who have been given permission by the Supreme Court to intervene in the case, to bring their expertise and understanding of violence against women to bear upon the court’s deliberations. The organisations are Rape Crisis England & Wales, End Violence Against Women Coalition, nia and Southall Black Sisters.

She says:

“The decisions in the High Court and Court of Appeal marked a significant step towards the recognition of the rights of women to equal protection from the law in relation to gender-based violence. This further challenge by the police, supported by the Home Secretary, is an attempt to turn the clock back on women’s rights.”