Three police forces are to be investigated by the police watchdog over concerns they failed to act on intelligence about suspected sex offenders living in their area.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched investigations into North Yorkshire, Essex and North Wales police forces over fears they failed for months to act on information about people who had purchased child abuse images over the internet.

Essex police is being scrutinised over why it failed to investigate teacher Martin Goldberg, 46, for 10 months after receiving allegations about him from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) centre. Goldberg secretly recorded thousands of images of naked boys at Thorpe Hall school in Southend before killing himself a day after police visited him on 9th September.

“There is rightly considerable public concern about how police forces deal with sexual offences involving children,” said the IPCC’s deputy chair, Sarah Green. “The IPCC takes this issue seriously and proactively contacted all forces and asked them to review their handling of intelligence to determine the scale of any issues. Our investigations will examine carefully how intelligence from Ceop was dealt with by these three forces.”

The investigations stem from intelligence handed to Ceop, now part of the National Crime Agency, by Toronto police in July 2012. The intelligence, dubbed Project Spade, was an international sting that caught people attempting to purchase child abuse images over the internet.

Information about 2,300 suspected paedophiles in the UK, including Goldberg, was not disseminated to forces around the UK until November 2013 after it became part of the National Crime Agency.

The IPCC said it was still considering whether to investigate the National Crime Agency over Ceop’s failure to act on the information for 16 months. “The IPCC has still not received all the information it requires from the NCA. Once this happens the assessment will be completed,” an IPCC spokesman said.

North Yorkshire and North Wales police forces referred themselves to the watchdog last month after the IPCC requested all forces in England and Wales to review how they handled the Project Spade material.

Article Source: The Guardian 12th November 2014


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