Sunday, October 21, 2012

British rape detectives face tough new guidelines after rogue police officer sabotaged 13 cases

Police who investigate rape claims will be ordered to follow tough new guidelines after an officer sabotaged 13 sex crime investigations.

Ryan Coleman-Farrow, a former Scotland Yard detective, faces jail for allowing alleged rapists to escape prosecution and then forging police files to cover up his negligence.

His actions meant 12 women were robbed of justice and the chance of seeing their alleged tormentors put on trial.

Coleman-Farrow’s deliberate refusal to help victims once again puts pressure on Scotland Yard’s Sapphire unit, which is supposed to be the gold standard for rape investigations across the country.

Another detective from Sapphire is also under investigation for allegedly sabotaging rape cases in a similar way to Coleman-Farrow.

Yesterday the new head of the sex crime unit pledged to get tough on poorly performing officers. Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Duthie is introducing more ‘robust processes’ within his unit to avoid ‘repeating the mistakes of the past’.

He outlined a radical blueprint for combatting rape crimes. The chief is hoping to use licensing laws to shut down pubs and clubs where high levels of rape and sexual assaults take place.

However critics branded his plans as a ‘diversion’. A spokesman for Women Against Rape said: ‘These so-called prevention strategies are a diversion from what’s needed. We want thorough unbiased investigations and prosecutions so rapists are caught and convicted, and rape is discouraged.

‘Telling men not to rape will have no effect when the reality is that 93 per cent of rapes don’t reach conviction. Victims want their attackers prosecuted for rape, not for some unconnected crime. ‘What makes women vulnerable is that the authorities side with the rapist rather than the victim. Victims are disbelieved, especially if they have been attacked before.’

Coleman-Farrow, is expected to be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court later this month for failing to investigate rapes, pursue suspects or submit evidence over a three-year period. His activities left 11 alleged sex attackers at large.

The second officer, a detective constable who has not been named, is on bail until January while an investigation continues. He was arrested in June on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

Colleagues claimed he had altered crime documents by inserting statements from the Crown Prosecution Service and senior officers to indicate that no charges were to be brought in rape and sexual abuse cases when no such decision had been made.

The officer was involved in 63 cases - 26 of which are continuing, and 37 in which he claimed the inquiry was completed.

Each case is being reviewed and at least two women have already been told by detectives that their cases are being reopened.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission - which was involved in investigating both cases - is also carrying out a third investigation into the working practices of the Sapphire following repeated concerns about the way it has been functioning.

The focus on Sapphire comes after senior officers claimed three years ago that it had been reformed following a series of scandals in which two serial rapists were left at large to rape and abuse hundreds of women.

Failures in Sapphire were exposed by the cases of John Worboys, a black-cab driver and one of Britain’s most prolific serial rapists, and Kirk Reid, a south London chef who raped and sexually assaulted more than 71 women over eight years.

Det Chief Supt Duthie yesterday pledged to increase supervision of his officers by restructuring Sapphire into five or six large regional teams.

He also pledged to reduce the ‘unacceptable’ 13 hours it takes on average for victims to be interviewed and medically examined after reporting rape.

When asked about officers who failed to investigate rapes properly, he said: ‘It is a big responsibility investigating rape. If we get it wrong, a rapist walks free. I don’t want that to happen on my watch. ‘It’s damaging to the organisation and damaging to the Sapphire brand. That’s why we are restructuring to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

One of his biggest challenges is the big fall in the reporting of rapes in greater London over the last year, which appears to buck the national trend.

Women’s groups blame a loss of confidence in the police due to the high-profile failures by Sapphire in the past five years.

Det Chief Supt Duthie said that although reporting of rapes was down, detections were up since he had taken over - with 330 men charged between April to September this year compared with 259 in the same period last year.

Original report here

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