Wales

IPCC inquiry into North Wales Police paedophile delays

Gareth Williams Image copyright Gareth Williams
Image caption Project Spade helped catch Cardiff paedophile Gareth Williams

The police watchdog is to investigate North Wales Police's delay in looking into allegations of child sex abuse uncovered by Canadian police.

The force was given the names of three possible paedophiles by the National Crime Agency (NCA) in 2013, but did not act on them for a year.

North Wales Police has referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The force said there was no indication the delay caused a risk to the public.

The suspects' names were given to the NCA by Toronto Police as part of its child exploitation investigation Project Spade.

Names delay

North Wales Police Superintendent Andy Jenks Gilbert said the force thought it was dealing with 12 referrals in 2013, but later checks revealed three more cases needed investigation.

He said one was dealt with in a separate operation and the other two were now being processed.

"Because of the delay we have made a voluntary referral to the IPCC," he said.

"There is no indication that the delay in investigating these two additional cases has presented any risk to the public."

The NCA was given a list of 2,335 suspects by Toronto Police in July 2012, but waited 16 months before sending the names to police forces across England and Wales.

The files held by the agency included details of Cardiff deputy head teacher Gareth Williams, who was jailed for secretly filming children going to the toilet .

Home Secretary quizzed

The issue was raised in the House of Commons on Monday by the Llanelli MP Nia Griffith.

She quizzed Home Secretary Theresa May on the delay in passing over information about Gareth Williams.

The Labour MP also asked about 20,000 individuals the NCA has information on in connection with accessing child abuse images, but she said only 700 of these people have been prosecuted.

Responding, Ms May said: "Under the National Crime Agency more people are having action taken against them who are looking at child abuse images."

The NCA has also referred itself to the IPCC over its own delays in relation to Project Spade, while referrals from other forces are currently being assessed by the IPCC.

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