London sex crimes detective is suspended in misconduct inquiry

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A specialist Scotland Yard sex crimes detective is under investigation after he allegedly sent fabricated letters to victims erroneously telling them that their cases had been discontinued, it emerged last night.

The detective constable from the elite Sapphire Unit of the Metropolitan Police, has been suspended on suspicion of gross misconduct pending an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The allegations, revealed last night by Channel 4 News, relate to about 30 of the officer's cases. The detective is alleged to have fabricated statements and letters to victims saying that inquiries had been discontinued on advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, due to a lack of evidence.

It is understood that the officer's alleged misconduct was discovered during the IPCC investigation into the contact police had with two women who committed suicide in Putney, South West London, before their deaths.

The pair, named locally as prostitutes Chemaine Chevlene, 31, and Jaime Perlman, 26, were found dead in a fume-filled rented flat two weeks ago. Both women had made unrelated reports of harassment to the Metropolitan Police – Ms Chevlene in May 2008 and Ms Perlman in January 2009. The officer under investigation is thought to have been involved Ms Perlman's case.

IPCC investigators are examining claims that police failed to adequately investigate complaints by both women that they were harassed by different men. The Met's directorate of professional standards had begun an inquiry into her claims at the time of her death.

Police found letters in which Ms Perlman outlined why she was unhappy about the inquiry into her harassment claim between January 2009 and April 2010. The IPCC inquiry into the Sapphire team is the fourth major inquiry in two years into how the UK's largest police force handles rape investigations. Serious failures in the cases of John Worboys and Kirk Reid prompted an overhaul of the Sapphire teams. Previously regional squads, they were brought under central command a year ago.

Deborah Glass of the IPCC said: "Both women raised concerns about how the police handled their reports of harassment, and we are examining whether officers did what would be reasonably expected. We are also carrying out a further investigation, looking into a number of other cases handled by the officer in Miss B's [Ms Perlman's] case."

The latest Met figures show that recorded rape offences have gone up by a third, while other sexual offences increased by 7 per cent. The Metropolitan Police, which has not publicly identified the victims, confirmed that a second referral had been made to the IPCC.