Tuesday 28 February 2012

Serial rapists could have been escaping justice because of police failures

I was listening to the BBC Radio news this morning and heard something about, if the police had a more joined up approach to serial rape, they might actually catch the perpetrators. This took me right back to the summer of 1983. 

 Emma Calder outside Nottingwood House In July 1983

The pictures that I drew right after the event, are used to illustrate the story. Rough and drawn in haste.

It was a hot Friday in July and my flat mate and her boyfriend had just gone away for the weekend, something they never did, my boy friend was also not around. I was very pleased to have our council flat in Notting Hill, all to myself.

The flat was dirty, my flat mate and her boyfriend had turned into slobs and just drank Thunderbird and whiskey, they never cleaned and I also had been very busy finishing my M.A and didn't clean either.

I put the radio on, John Peel to start with, got out the mop and hoovered and cleaned and cleaned all evening. It was hot, all the lights were all on, I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

Exhausted I went to bed it must have been about 2am. The window was ajar, I was unaware that my boyfriend had removed the window locks, because of the heat.

Around about seven I woke, I could hear something by the window. Before I opened my eyes, I had thought it was my dad, as he lived just up the road, bringing me post, or a pint of milk, as he often did but, it wasn't him.

We lived in a first floor flat, with a walkway balcony outside. I looked towards my bedroom window. 
 Emma Calder's notebook 1983

A small black head with short dreads was popping over the top of the window, then he was pushing it right down, in his hand he had a very long, very sharp kitchen knife. As he started to climb over the window, he saw me looking at him from my bed and he said,

 “I am going to fucking rape you!”

I can remember my fear, like it happened yesterday. I leapt out of bed completely naked, ran towards the window, right at him, knife and all and I screamed. 

The most primeval scream, I have ever heard, or made and I screamed and screamed and screamed, it echoed all around the housing estate. Then he backed off from the window and climbed down and ran away. Despite my screams, no one came to my assistance. I phoned the police. 

The police came, asked questions but, they mainly, just took fingerprints. They said someone from the rape squad would call me. The following day or so, a woman from the rape squad did come. I can still remember her quite well, she was about thirty with long brown hair. What she had to say though, completely shocked me and is why nearly thirty years on I am writing this blog and I am wondering what has changed.

“Well” she said. “You know the local police aren't going to be interested in solving this crime, don't you? Because the guy who tried to break in and rape you, was black and he fits the description of the Shepherds Bush rapist. They reckon he got the first tube, it all fits, he always does it early on in the morning. They won't bother trying to catch him, because your police are the Notting Hill police and they want to catch the Notting Hill rapist and he's white, so it's not him, but they won't catch the Shepherds Bush rapist because he's not their responsibility and the Shepherds Bush police won't bother coming up here to question you, because it isn't on their patch.”

Then she said, that the man had tried to get into another flat upstairs, before they had tried my flat and she said we should go up together to talk to those people as it might make us all feel better. They were a mother and grown up daughter, I didn't know them, it was not a very sociable estate. We went into their flat and the policewoman said, that I was the other person that the rapist had tried to attack, they were very quiet and embarrassed. I suddenly thought they would have heard me scream, but they had done nothing, they had seen the man and they still did nothing, not even call the police. I said to them did you hear me scream, they were speechless. We left the flat, the police woman said they were probably too frightened, although I had always thought she took me up there to deliberately shame them. She said when questioned, people from all over the estate had heard me scream but, no one had rung them.

The policewoman said, I would not hear another word from the police as they were all having too much fun busting the black guys for drugs in St Marks Road W.11. She left me a number to call for counselling and that was it. I think they did eventually catch the Notting Hill rapist but, I never found out about the Shepherds Bush one.