From 1991-1995 Andy Coles was an undercover officer in the Metropolitan Police’s disgraced Special Demonstration Squad who are now the subject of a full-scale public inquiry. He lived deep undercover, infiltrating peace campaigns and animal rights groups.
Whilst deployed, he was sexually aggressive to a number of women he was spying on. Most of them fended them off but one, a teenager known as Jessica, began a year-long sexual relationship with him.
In November 2015, the Met’s Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt issued an unprecedented apology to women deceived in this way.
‘it has become apparent that some officers, acting undercover whilst seeking to infiltrate protest groups, entered into long-term intimate sexual relationships with women which were abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong.
‘I acknowledge that these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma. I unreservedly apologise on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service…
‘relationships like these should never have happened. They were wrong and were a gross violation of personal dignity and integrity…
‘none of the women with whom the undercover officers had a relationship brought it on themselves. They were deceived pure and simple. I want to make it clear that the Metropolitan Police does not suggest that any of these women could be in any way criticized for the way in which these relationships developed’.
After she learned the truth, Jessica said
‘Although I was 19, I had never been in a proper relationship before. Events in my life had taught me it’s best to keep people at arm’s length. So, I didn’t know how to react when he made advances towards me, I was embarrassed, awkward, and what truly makes me feel sick now, is that I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I look back now and realise I was naive, idealistic, unsophisticated and a very young 19.
‘Appallingly I also now know my new “boyfriend” was a 32 year old, married undercover policeman working for the SDS, Special Demonstration Squad. I had believed him to be about 24 at the time..
‘Although not legally underage, I feel that my youth and vulnerability were used to target me. I was groomed by someone much older, and far more experienced (he had been an acting police officer for 10 years) and I was manipulated into having a sexual relationship with him. I didn’t even know his real name.’
Andy Coles was exposed as a former ‘spycop’ in May 2017. There can be no doubt that, had the truth been revealed before November 2015, Jessica would have been one of the women the 2015 apology was given to.
Jessica has begun legal action against the police, and she has been granted core participant status at the forthcoming public inquiry into undercover policing.
Andy Coles went on to be Head of Training for the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Terrorism and Allied Matters committee. He retired from the police in 2012 at the end of a 30 year career.
Andy Coles: After the Police
In Peterborough he took on a number of public roles. Many of these involved working with teenagers.
He became Chair of Families First Peterborough, a community interest company seeking to ensure provision of play for children and working with those children in danger of being excluded from school.
He was elected to Peterborough City Council in 2015, and soon became Lead Member with Responsibility for Children Services.
He became a governor of the Voyager Academy in 2011, and of West Town Primary in 2014.
In 2016, he became Cambridgeshire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner. In that role, he endorsed the Children’s Society’s Seriously Awkward campaign that helps teenagers over the age of 16 who are at risk of sexual exploitation.
There is no suggestion that he has used these posts for anything untoward. However, but it is wholly inappropriate for someone with a history of abusing their power, violating human rights and sexually exploiting teenagers to hold any of these roles. He has already left most of them, but is trying to hold on to his position as City Councillor and school governor.
He should apologise to those he abused and resign from positions of civic trust.