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by Charles Thomson, chief reporter
February 27th 2019
A NUMBER of potentially vital documents about the Shoebury Sex Ring have disappeared from Essex County Council’s archive.
A legal action by the YA has revealed that more than a year’s worth of records from the Southend child protection committee are missing from the vault.
The dates of the missing documents coincide directly with the duration of a police and social services investigation into a paedophile ring which abused dozens of Southend children.
In May 1989, Essex Police arrested two men for being the ringleaders of the child sex network. They were convicted and jailed just over a year later in May 1990.
But seven whistleblowing child protection workers, who each had a professional link with the case, have raised concerns with the YA about the way the investigation was conducted.
They claimed the child victims were not given the support and treatment they needed and that other men involved in the ring were never prosecuted.
Last year the YA used Freedom of Information legislation to demand the release of all the minutes from the Southend child protection committee between January 1989 and December 1991.
In December, the county council released a batch of documents, but every set of minutes from between April 1989 and April 1990 was missing. The records picked back up in mid-May 1990, one day after the paedophile ringleaders were jailed.
Minutes then continue as normal until mid-1991, when another crucial record about the Shoebury Sex Ring is missing.
After the ringleaders were jailed, the county council ordered a series of meetings to investigate failings in the authorities’ handling of the case.
They ran from autumn 1990 until spring 1991 and were attended by representatives from County Hall, Shoebury High School, children’s charities, the Southend Health Authority and other bodies.
After the final meeting, the group was asked to write a report for the child protection committee, recommending changes to procedure which might improve future investigations.
The minutes from the meeting where the committee received and discussed that report are also missing from County Hall’s archive.
. The records of these meetings are not the only official documents about the Shoebury Sex Ring to mysteriously disappear.