Essex Police officers face charges over alleged child abuse failures

Police are investigating two armed robberies in Essex. Library image. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Police are investigating two armed robberies in Essex. Library image. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Two officers from Essex Police face charges of misconduct in public office in relation to alleged failings in child abuse cases.

Detective constable Sharon Patterson and former DC Lee Pollard, who both previously worked in the North Child Abuse Investigation Team (NCAIT), face charges of falsifying charging decisions, forging a complainant’s signature, misrepresenting evidence to their senior officers, and destroying exhibits.

A file of evidence from an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in February 2017 and the two officers have now been told that the CPS has authorised charges against them.

Sarah Green, regional director at the IOPC, said: “These are very serious allegations over how police officers handled some of the most sensitive cases brought before them.

“The investigative phase has now concluded, on what has been a comprehensive and extensive IOPC managed investigation, during which more than 160 witnesses gave statements and 26 officers were interviewed for either criminal offences or misconduct matters and in excess of 500 exhibits were catalogued.

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“After reviewing the investigation reports there was an indication that some current and former officers may have committed criminal offences.

“Following the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service to charge we will be working with them to bring this matter before the courts and every effort has been made to notify the survivors involved in those cases.”

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The IOPC has been managing a total of 55 investigations into alleged failings in child abuse investigations carried out by officers in Essex Police’s NCAIT between 2011 and 2014.

An Essex Police spokesperson said: “The IOPC investigation relates to cases investigated by Essex Police between 2011 and 2014. We made the initial referrals to IOPC and since 2014 have made comprehensive changes to the way similar cases are investigated. Independent inspections of the force concluded in 2017 that Essex Police has made ‘significant improvements in the way in which it recognises and responds to people who are vulnerable.’

“While the ongoing proceedings mean that Essex Police cannot comment in detail on the charges or the IOPC investigation, the force has apologised to children and families affected by failings in our investigation and we reiterate that apology today.”

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