Two women, DSD and NBV, were able to rely on the Human Rights Act to seek justice a catalogue of police failings after they were raped by John Worboy, dubbed the “black cab rapist”. It was the Human Rights Act, and its protection against inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3), that meant these two women were able to hold the police to account. This right can include a duty to investigate serious harm, and the judge found systemic failures throughout the police investigation and that but these NBV would not have been raped at all. He also found that both DSD and NBV had not been supported or believed.

DSD was picked up by Worboy in 2003. He told her he had won the lottery and coerced her into having a drink with him to celebrate. She has no recollection of anything after this. It turned out that Worboy raped her and drove her a stranger’s house thinking it was her address. This man convinced Worboy to take her to the police station. The desk officer did not take Worboy’s details, and instead believed DSD was on drugs, and sent her on to the hospital. The next morning, her boyfriend rang the police to report that she had been raped. DSD contacted police many times that year, believing her case wasn’t being taken seriously. Later that year the police closed the case, recording DSD’s fear that the taxi driver who raped her would ‘strike again’.

Four years later in 2007, NBV was also picked up by Worboy. Again he told her he had won the lottery, however NBV didn’t finish the celebratory drink he offered and her and her last memory is of him forcing her to take a pill. The next morning, when she called the police to report the assault, they got the registration of the taxi from CCTV. Worboy was arrested and interviewed, but he was released.

In 2008, a routine computer check linked 4 assaults with similar circumstances. Days later, Worboy was arrested and a homemade ‘rape kit’ found at his house provided physical evidence of the rapes. By the end of the investigation, police had 105 allegations against Worboy. In this case, the Human Rights Act meant victims of crime were able secure and admission from the police that they should have done more to investigate the crime. Following the case, the Metropolitan Police agreed to train their front desk officers in recognising signs of sexual assault.

Source: DSD and NBV v The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2014] EWHC 436 (QB)