Kent Police is facing criticism for displaying a public poster that listed rape and sexual assault as “non-emergency” crimes .
The A4 printout, put up by a member of staff at the front counter of Maidstone police station, advised residents to report a list of “non-emergency enquiries” via an online form.
The list also included domestic abuse, alongside lesser crimes such as anti-social behaviour and issues unrelated to criminal offences, such as “compliments and complaints”.
Kent Police said the poster was part of their Click B4 U Call campaign, which encouraged people, where suitable, to use online reporting to free up call handlers.
The poster has since been removed, the force said, and replaced with one “clarifying our advice about how best to report crimes”.
One Twitter user, @Ayejb96, posted the picture and said: “@kent_police make this make sense? This just goes to show how done out this country is getting!! How can you downplay such a horrific and violent crime? I get it’s hard to prove but going about it like this ain’t the way.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Emma Banks, Kent Police’s head of protecting vulnerable people, said: “We urge anyone to call us on 999 if there is a crime in progress or if someone is in immediate danger. Doing so can make the difference between arresting a suspect at the scene and in some cases saving a life.
“We also support victims in reporting offences in a number of other ways, often for crimes which are not in progress and which may have happened in the past. This can be done online, or through means including text messaging services.
“Kent Police takes the investigation of domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault extremely seriously and we support victims to come forward and speak to us.
“All reports of rape or sexual assault, made through whatever channel are reviewed by a detective sergeant, and are ultimately overseen by a senior officer as part of a thorough review process aimed at ensuring justice and support for all victims.”
It comes a day after the publication of the Casey Review, which described the Metropolitan Police as institutionally sexist, racist and homophobic. The damning review, commissioned in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, found the Met had failed to protect the public from officers who abuse women, that organisational changes had put women and children at greater risk, and that female officers and staff routinely experience sexism.
Baroness Casey said violence against women and girls has not been taken as seriously as other forms of violence, despite the Met describing it as a priority.
The report detailed shocking inadequacies in the Met’s investigation of rape cases. One officer described how fridges used to store forensic samples from rape victims were so full that it took three officers to strap them shut.
A lunchbox was found shoved alongside samples, potentially contaminating evidence, while another freezer full of rape kits broke down, meaning all the evidence was destroyed and criminal cases had to be dropped.