Essex Police: 25 officers suspended, handling of child sex abuse cases investigated

Reuters / Yannis Behrakis
Essex Police are investigating 29 officers as the force undergoes an inquiry into its handling of 49 child abuse cases between 2011 and 2015.

Of the 29 present and former officers, six are being criminally investigated, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said.

There are 25 current and four former officers under investigation by the IPCC. Only two serving officers have been suspended. The rest have been placed on restricted duties.

The majority of the rest have been placed on restricted duties.The IPCC is looking into allegations of misconduct and perversion of the course of justice, with officers being investigated for alleged failures over victim safeguarding and problems with the investigation process.

There are also concerns about the honesty and integrity of officers over the way some investigations into child abuse were conducted.

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Some 22 of the notices are in relation to alleged gross misconduct.

Essex Police said it had taken “a number of immediate actions to put things right.”

The latest notices given to officers mean the number of policemen and women currently under investigation has nearly doubled since the beginning of the inquiry into the police force.

Initially, when the IPCC announced its investigation into Essex Police’s handing of child abuse cases, only 12 officers were being investigated. That number has now risen to 25 serving officers, and four further ex-officers.

These investigations relate to issues we identified and referred to the IPCC,” Deputy Chief Constable Derek Benson said.

“We took a number of immediate actions to put things right and will work with the IPCC to identify where further improvements need to be made.

“We are working closely with partner agencies and children’s charities to ensure the force gets expert, independent advice, and the changes we have made to the way we investigate child abuse cases mean that our investigations will be of the highest standards possible.

“There is no more important issue to Essex Police than protecting children,” he added.

Essex Crime Commissioner Nick Alston said the force “must be careful not to pre-judge the outcome.”