Council 'abuse' claims will be taken seriously, promises Police Commissioner

By Charles Thomson in Crime

**EXCLUSIVE**

’DISTURBING’ allegations of a child abuse ’cover-up’ at Essex Council will be ’fully investigated’, the Essex Police Commissioner has promised.

Nick Alston has reassured alleged victims and witnesses that their claims will be taken seriously if they choose to come forward.

He made the promise after the YA exclusively revealed last week that Essex Council leader David Finch was appealing for witnesses to an alleged ’cover-up’ in the 1980s and 90s.

Cllr Finch launched the appeal after former NHS manager Robin Jamieson, who was district psychologist for Southend in the 1990s, made a speech at the Houses of Parliament claiming that alleged child abuse had not been properly investigated.

Mr Jamieson made the claims at a ’whistleblowers event’ in front of MPs and legal experts last month.

He claimed that in the 1990s he was ’approached discretely by junior staff with alarming allegations, suggesting serious failures of child protection’.

He said he reported the concerns to Essex Council but the response was ’insulting and threatening’.

He claimed he then reported concerns to police but heard nothing of any subsequent investigation.

After reading the YA’s front page report, Mr Alston issued a statement promising whistleblowers would be taken seriously.

He said: “The concerns raised by former district psychologist Robin Jamieson are disturbing. Anyone with information relating to these allegations, or who has been a victim of child sexual abuse, should report this information to Essex Police so that it can be properly and fully investigated.”

Cllr Finch last week urged alleged victims to come forward.

He said: “We are aware that there have been some historical child abuse concerns in relation to individual members of staff employed by Essex County Council in the 1980s and early 1990s.

“We know that these concerns were investigated at that time by the council and Essex Police and appropriate actions were taken in accordance with the evidence available at the time.

“There was no evidence of an organised cover-up, nor indeed was there sufficient evidence at the time for further investigations to take place.

“However, these are clearly very serious allegations. If Mr Jamieson, or anyone else, has evidence of a ’cover-up’ or of agencies failing to properly investigate such concerns, we would very much welcome the information and would fully investigate such concerns together with Essex Police.”

Mr Jamieson came forward after reading a series of exclusive YA reports about compensation payments for alleged abuse.

The YA revealed in January that County Hall paid £90,000 in 2014 for two alleged abuse cases in the Vulnerable Children and Young People department in 1993.

Civil servants refused to answer any questions about the payments and, in response to subsequent Freedom of Information responses, reclassified the alleged abuse pay-outs as personal injury claims, making them indistinguishable from pay-outs for minor accidents like cut fingers.

*Mr Alston urged anybody affected by the issues raised by Mr Jamieson to contact Essex Police by dialling 101, or visit www.essexvictimsgateway.org.

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