Shoebury 'Sex Ring' Failures Must Be Independently Investigated, Says Outgoing Police Commissioner
Thur 5th May 2016, Yellow Advertiser
FAILURES unearthed by officers reviewing a historic 'paedophile ring' investigation must be reported to two independent bodies, outgoing police commissioner Nick Alston has said.
Essex Police is currently reviewing officers' conduct in a child abuse investigation in Shoeburyness in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Mr Alston has called for any poor practice uncovered by the probe to be reported to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the national Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, also known as the Godard Inquiry.
Mr Alston said he expected some shortcomings to be uncovered purely because child protection policies are far stronger now than they were at the time.
He commented: "It's 25 years ago now. Go back to 2010 – pre-Savile and pre-Rotherham and all these things – and it was actually a different world even then, and that's pretty recent stuff.
"It was changing, of course, but I think in the last three or four or five years, the prism through which we view all of these things has changed so utterly."
Mr Alston and Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh announced in March that the force was reviewing an investigation which resulted in the conviction and imprisonment of two paedophiles in 1990, for abusing adolescent boys in Shoeburyness.
The review was launched after three whistleblowers claimed victims had reported abuse by far more than just two men, but nobody else appeared to have been pursued.
They also claimed some victims were never interviewed by police and most who were still never received appropriate after-care such as counselling. Some have since reportedly committed suicide, died of drug overdoses, been sent to prison and, in one case, gone on to abuse children.
A fourth whistleblower, tracked down by the YA and now cooperating with the review, echoed the original claims.
Two of the whistleblowers, who worked at a Southend young offenders charity and received abuse disclosures from boys on their books, said they feared cops had failed to take the allegations seriously because they took a dim view of the complainants.
Mr Alston described the allegations as 'chilling', telling the YA: "It's an overwhelmingly credible scenario. The circumstantial evidence is apparently strong."
He said: "The whole piece has changed, like not seeing the people as victims – the concept of the 'streetwise kid' and 'it's their lifestyle'; that's gone, thank God. So looking at this again through today's eyes, I think, is something we absolutely have to do – particularly in the context of Godard. It would be absolutely shocking not to do that.
"If there were failings and Essex Police discover that, would I expect them to refer that to the IPCC? Absolutely, yes. And I think it will be hard for the Chief Constable not to think of referring this to Godard, depending what they find."
Mr Alston urged victims and witnesses to call Essex Police on 101.
Specialist helplines for victims:
National Association for People Abused in Childhood – 0808 801 0331.
SERICC (south and west Essex) – 01375 380609.
CARA (mid and north Essex) – 01206 769795.
SoSRC (Southend) – 01702 667590.
National Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – 0808 800 5000.
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