Rogue officers must not deter child abuse survivors from coming forward, says charity
PUBLISHED: 16:38 12 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:38 12 May 2019
Charities have said its vital that the survivors of child abuse feel able to come forward after two former Essex Police detectives were jailed for gross misconduct.
Former detective constables Sharon Patterson, 49, and Lee Pollard, 47, from Colchester were jailed for 18 months and two years respectively on Friday after having been found guilty of gross misconduct whilst working at a child abuse unit in north Essex.
Following their conviction, charities have condemned the pair and the impact they had on victims.
An NSPCC spokesperson for the East of England said: "Pollard and Patterson showed utter contempt for victims of abuse at a time they should have expected to be listened to and supported.
"Their appalling conduct while working on these cases will have caused unimaginable extra pain for those who had already suffered the trauma of abuse.
"It is absolutely vital that child abuse survivors are able to come forward with confidence they will be taken seriously at all stages of investigations."
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The Old Bailey heard how Patterson and Pollard had forged documents, concealed evidence and lied about investigations out of laziness and "cynical disdain" for their victims.
The couple had previously denied wrongdoing between 2011 and 2014, citing administrative chaos at the child abuse unit.
The misconduct came to light in 2014 after a victim complained her signature had been forged - and misspelled - on a statement taken by Patterson. The court also heard Pollard had destroyed four indecent photographs of a complainant in another case while it was still being investigated.
Judge Nigel Lickley QC told the pair them they had shown "contempt" for victims when they chose to shut down investigations rather than put in the work.
He said: "People relied on you to do your job to the standard expected. You abused that position for your own selfish purposes."
The Independent Office for Police Conduct's regional director Sarah Green said: "It feels particularly reprehensible that officers with responsibility for investigating child abuse investigation allegations behaved in a manner that risked allowing child abusers to go unpunished.
"Survivors of child abuse must have confidence in their police force and feel secure that their allegations will be properly and thoroughly handled."