Historic Shoebury child sex ring case exposed by YA to be reopened after damning report highlights failings by Essex Police

Mick Ferris
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The investigation into the Shoebury sex ring of the 1980s and 90s is to be reopened for the third time since the Yellow Advertiser first brought the scandal to the public’s attention six years ago following a damning report released last week which found a litany of failures by Essex Police.

The story has garnered a number of national awards for reporter Charles Thomson including The Ray Fitwalter Award for Investigative Journalism and Weekly Regional Journalist of the Year 2019. The YA won the Campaign of the Year award in March this year for the expose.

One of the victims of the ring, who approached the YA for help, submitted a complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct over Essex Police’s handling of the case.

After a year-long review into the force’s behaviour, the PSD has upheld nine of the victim’s 15 complaints including:

The force gave a historic paedophile ring investigation to an inexperienced officer who was then not properly supervised

There were “inexcusable” delays in the man’s case with almost a year passing from the YA him to police to the completion of his interview – meetings were cancelled at short notice and scheduled more than a month apart.

The man’s allegations against a retired police officer, who he identified and whose name and whereabouts have been known to the YA for almost five years, were never logged as a crime and lines of enquiry concerning the allegations were never investigated. It also transpired that similar allegations had been made a year earlier to another organisation concerning the same retired officer.

His allegations about other abusers were also not investigated properly.

Three Essex Police officers are now facing management action.

The report states: “There is no rationale as to why this was not allocated to a more experienced officer.”

It continues: “There are many enquiries that have not been completed. These enquiries may have uncovered new witnesses who may have been willing to give evidence to the police…

“…no attempts seem to have been made to locate the people he talks about in interview, whether they may be suspects, victims or witnesses.”

The report also apologises to the victim and the case will now be reinvestigated by Operation Quest, a taskforce which has been set up to look into complex historic cases.

Reporter Charles Thomson, who now works at the Archant Investigations Unit, has recorded a gripping series of eight podcasts which details all aspects of his investigation into the cover up of the Shoebury child sex ring.

They can be found at: https://audioboom.com/channels/4977302


Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk