ESSEX Police has announced an investigation into alleged child sex abuse in the 1980s and 1990s, following a year-long Yellow Advertiser investigation into claims of an establishment cover-up.
The probe is being led by Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh, who was introduced to three whistleblowers last month during a meeting the YA helped to arrange.
The Chief Constable and Essex Police Commissioner Nick Alston will release a formal statement later today outlining the nature and scale of the investigation into abuse involving as many as 60 youngsters in Shoebury and other parts of Essex.
Mr Alston thanked the YA for its ’important’ role in the investigation.
He said: "You have helped us into this place and I am grateful for it."
Officers will investigate claims that police and civil servants failed to properly investigate suspected paedophiles or adequately protect alleged victims during the 1980s and 90s. They will also more urgently look into whether known victims remain at risk today as a result of past failures.
Three whistleblowers were put in touch with Essex Police following a series of YA meetings, where they were able to describe an alleged ’pattern of institutional abuse’ across the county.
They came forward after the YA published a series of exclusive reports about alleged historic abuse.
The allegations have been made by a retired NHS manager, a serving probation officer and the former manager of a child sex abuse treatment centre.
Mr Alston described the claims as ’chilling’.
He said police would have to test the whistleblowers’ accounts, but commented: "It’s an overwhelmingly credible scenario. The circumstantial evidence is apparently strong."
In a statement confirming the investigation, due to be published later this morning, Essex Police said: "At the meeting, serious concerns were raised about alleged sexual offences committed against children, particularly boys in local authority or foster care, during the 1980s and 1990s.
"Further deep concerns were raised about the safeguarding and support provided for a large number of young people who may have been victims of serious abuse.
"In the relevant period there were a number of investigations and prosecutions, and two convictions were secured.
"However, the concern of these professionals, who were working in the area at the time, was that those investigations may not have been sufficiently thorough."
Mr Alston said: "Without the Yellow Advertiser having had the confidence to build that relationship with those professionals, and to trust me to do the right thing here, we would not be making this announcement. So thank you for taking the initiative on this. Thank you for trusting us."