An inquiry has been launched into the way North Yorkshire Police handled information about people believed to be resident in the county received from the National Crime Agency in November last year.
According to the Independent Complaints Commission, “information currently indicates” 25 local people were named in intelligence compiled as part of Project Spade, a global investigation by Toronto Police, but the force did not act upon it until September 2014.
A spokesman said: “North Yorkshire Police has confirmed that 17 individuals have now been arrested and bailed, four have been sent to other forces to deal with, two had previously been arrested on other relevant offences, one was dealt with other than by way of arrest and one is now deceased.”
North Yorkshire Police referred itself to the IPCC in September and is now being investigated over its alleged failure to act on intelligence relating to indecent images of children.
Essex Police last year referred itself to the IPCC following a delay in acting on an intelligence package from the National Crime Agency in November 2013, which identified now-deceased teacher Martin Goldberg as a potential paedophile.
Project Spade, an investigation by Toronto Police which saw intelligence passed to police forces worldwide, including to the UK, is about individuals suspected of accessing indecent images of children from a video production company in Canada.
The IPCC’s investigation into North Yorkshire Police will look into whether the force dealt with the intelligence as it should have done, and whether its intelligence bureau had enough expertise to deal with it.
It will also investigate whether the force replied properly to requests from the NCA for updates on what they’d done with the intelligence and what action it took based on the intelligence passed to it by the NCA.
IPCC Commissioner Kathryn Stone said: “How police deal with child abuse is rightly of great concern to the families of those involved and society in general.
“It is vital that our investigation should examine how North Yorkshire Police dealt with the intelligence given to them by the NCA and what actions they took. We will be conducting a thorough and comprehensive investigation into this matter.”
IPCC investigators have already obtained information about the North Yorkshire Police Intelligence Bureau, and its staffing, and have requested the email archive relating to the intelligence from the NCA.
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.”