Police to be probed over claims linked to sex inquiries

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NORTH YORKSHIRE Police is among three forces to be investigated over alleged failures to act on intelligence relating to indecent images of children.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission will investigate North Yorkshire, Essex and North Wales police forces in relation to so-called Project Spade intelligence received from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop).

The move comes after Essex Police referred itself to the IPCC following a delay in acting on an intelligence package from the National Crime Agency (NCA) in November 2013, which identified now-deceased teacher Martin Goldberg as a potential paedophile.

Goldberg, who worked at Thorpe Hall School in Southend, was found to have hundreds of images of children on his computer when he was discovered dead at his Essex home the day after police had called on him.

Following the Essex referral, the IPCC wrote to chief constables of all police forces in England and Wales to ask whether their force received Project Spade material from the NCA and if so to review the way they treated the information.

As a result, the police watchdog received referrals from North Yorkshire and North Wales Police.

IPCC deputy chairman Sarah Green said: “There is rightly considerable public concern about how police forces deal with sexual offences involving children.

“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 IPCC has also received a referral from the NCA relating to a failure to send out Project Spade intelligence received in July 2012 to UK police forces until November 2013.

Toronto Police in Canada provided the information to Ceop, which included customer details of purchasers of indecent DVDs and videos.

Figures obtained by the Press Association last month showed that more than 200 suspects are still being investigated after information was first passed to the Ceop by Canadian police in July 2012.

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Mason, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “North Yorkshire Police takes its safeguarding responsibilities extremely seriously and as such the force made a voluntary referral to the IPCC in relation to intelligence received from CEOP.

“It would not be appropriate to comment further until the IPCC has completed its investigation.”