Essex child abuse: Increase in case probes 'not surprising'

Nick Alston
Image caption Police and crime commissioner Nick Alston said he was not surprised by news of a probe into further abuse cases

Concerns over the handling of child abuse cases by an Essex Police team are "not surprising", the county's police and crime commissioner (PCC) has said.

Eight extra cases have been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) on top of 30 already being looked into.

The investigations relate to a team covering north Essex.

Essex PCC Nick Alston said the increase was "distressing". The force has been asked to comment but has yet to do so.

"As the review into the quality of child abuse investigations instigated by Essex Police progresses, regrettably I do not find it surprising that it has identified further cases of concern and fresh referrals to the IPCC," he said.

But he stressed the number of cases being dealt with by the IPCC remained "a small proportion" of the total number of such cases investigated by the force each year.

"I am convinced the force is making real efforts to identify and resolve problems with the quality of child abuse investigations," Mr Alston added.

One of the force's officers was suspended and 11 others put on restricted duties following the force's referral of 28 cases to the IPCC.

Image caption Essex Police's chief constable, Stephen Kavanagh, said the force had apologised to all victims

The police watchdog was already reviewing two investigations by the same team.

Some cases are said to involve a "lack of honesty or integrity" by officers, and are based on allegations of historical abuse dating to the 1960s and 1970s.

Speaking to BBC Essex, chief constable Stephen Kavanagh, said the force had spoken or written to all the alleged victims involved in the cases.

"When we were concerned about shortfalls, we put the victims at the front of this," he said.

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