A former police officer who worked for Scotland Yard’s specialist sex crimes unit today admitted failing to investigate attacks on 13 women by faking records, falsifying witness statements and lying about sending exhibits for forensic analysis.
Ryan Coleman-Farrow – who was sacked from the force last year - admitted 13 counts of misconduct in public office over actions which resulted in inquiries against 11 alleged attackers failing to come to a conclusion or result in a successful prosecution. Prosecutors said there was no prospect of any of them being solved.
The inquiry into the activities of Coleman-Farrow is just one of four inquiries by the police watchdog into the activities of the Sapphire sex crime unit following allegations of wrong-doing by officers dealing with some of the most vulnerable victims of crime.
The 30-year-old Coleman-Farrow was first put under investigation in 2010 but the case was passed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission for more detailed examination after a sex worker who had accused him of failing to properly investigate her complaints about a stalker committed suicide alongside another woman. Jaime Perlman left a note complaining about the conduct of DC Coleman-Farrow when she and the fellow sex-worker killed themselves in a suicide pact in a fume-filled flat in southwest London. An inquest cleared Coleman-Farrow of wrongdoing in that case.
The Coleman-Farrow case is the latest blow to the credibility of the Sapphire unit, which employs more than 500 officers and deals with more than 5,000 allegations every year, but has faced criticisms over the handling of some of its investigations.
The unit was overhauled in 2009 following the conviction of one of Britain’s most prolific sex attackers, the black cab driver John Worboys, who was found to have continued attacking women after officers did not believe some victims’ claims.
Southwark Crown Court today heard that Coleman-Farrow wrongly informed women that prosecutors had decided not to go ahead with their cases. He had in fact made up meetings with the Crown Prosecution Service and falsely claimed to have interviewed rape suspects. It is understood that he had cancer at the time he committed some of the offences.
His crimes, related to inquiries into 10 rapes and three sex assaults, stretched from 2007 to 2010, including a period of time after the reorganisation of the unit. One of the women has since died. Suspects were not identified in every case and none were being investigated for more than one of the 13 cases , said the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Its deputy chairwoman Deborah Glass said: “Our investigation did not reveal systemic or serious supervisory failings…. Mr Coleman-Farrow appears to have been a rogue officer who set out to deceive.
”In pleading guilty, Ryan Coleman-Farrow has at least spared some of his victims the burden of reliving their experiences, in court, of how their cases were, or were not investigated.”
However groups working on behalf of women who had been raped said the case highlighted the concerns of woman about coming forward to report such crimes. Only about one in ten women reports a rape to police, according to one group.
In a statement, Women against Rape said that women had been denied justice as a result of Coleman-Farrow’s actions and their attackers “may well have felt emboldened to rape again”.
It added: “It is very undermining to officers genuinely committed to protecting women from violent men to see colleagues getting away with committing such a horrific crime for so long.”