A countywide review of alleged child sex offences carried out in the 1980s and 1990s will be carried out by Essex Police.
Serious concerns have been raised about alleged sexual offences committed against children, particularly boys in local authority or foster care, during the 1980s and 1990s.
Further deep concerns have been raised about the safeguarding and support provided for a large number of young people, who may have been victims of serious abuse.
In the relevant period there were a number of investigations and prosecutions, and two convictions were secured.
But, at a meeting involving Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh, a Detective Chief Inspector working in Essex Police’s Public Protection command, Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston, retired District psychologist Robin Jamieson, former Clinician Manager of the Suffolk Child Sexual Abuse Treatment Service Jenny Grinsted, and a youth worker and probation officer Rob West, concern was expressed by these professionals, who were working in the area at the time, was that those investigations may not have been sufficiently thorough.
Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh said: “At present we have allegations but no victims, suspects or locations.
“But whether alleged abuse, especially organised and institutionalised, happened yesterday or 30 years ago, it’s our duty to review it without fear or favour.
“If you have information about such crimes or are yourself a victim or survivor of sexual abuse as a child during this period, I need you to come forward and contact us directly on 101, asking to speak to a specialist officer within our Child Abuse Investigation teams.”
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “The abuse of a child, whether in the care of their parents or the state, is an abhorrent crime.
“Professionals who worked in Essex during the 1980s and 1990s have raised serious concerns with both Chief Constable Kavanagh and me, and it is right that Essex Police examines these allegations meticulously and seeks out any new evidence.
“For an adult to come forward and report abuse suffered as a child takes real courage. I would say to anyone in this situation: please come forward and trust us. You can speak to Essex Police directly, or to a specialist organisation which can provide support and help.”
Specialist sexual abuse telephone support for survivors and victims is available from: National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), on 0808 801 0331, SERICC (in the south and west of Essex) on 01375 380609, CARA (in the mid and north of Essex) on 01206 769795, SoSRC (in the Southend area) on 01702 667590.
If you would like to contact the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) are providing a national information line on 0808 800 5000. For more information about the inquiry go to www.iicsa.org.uk