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Former police commissioner ‘disappointed’ by Essex paedophile ring failures

PUBLISHED: 10:00 25 August 2020

Former Essex police commissioner Nick Alston has voiced his disappointment at failures in recent investigations into a historic paedophile ring - including those uncovered by an internal report (inset).

Former Essex police commissioner Nick Alston has voiced his disappointment at failures in recent investigations into a historic paedophile ring - including those uncovered by an internal report (inset).

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A director of the National Crime Agency (NCA) has revealed his disappointment over failures in recent investigations into a historic paedophile ring, uncovered by a new true crime podcast.

Nick Alston, who was Essex’s Police and Crime Commissioner from 2012-16, spoke after a report uncovered a litany of errors in the treatment of a victim – who was approached by police in 2017 thanks to Alston’s work with whistleblowers.

Alston said that if he was still the commissioner, “I would want to understand why this has happened and what he [the chief constable] was going to do about it.”

He made the comments in an interview with investigative podcast series Unfinished, which has examined decades of alleged failures by the authorities in their response to the ring, uncovered in Southend-on-Sea in 1989.

In 2015-16, Alston met retired professionals who had concerns over the authorities’ handing of the 1989/90 case. His intervention led Essex Police to announce a review of the original investigation.

Two men - Brian Tanner (left) and Dennis King (right) - were prosecuted for running a Southend paedophile ring in the late 1980s - but a new podcast series investigates alleged failures in the handling of the case. Picture: Anglia Press Agency.Two men - Brian Tanner (left) and Dennis King (right) - were prosecuted for running a Southend paedophile ring in the late 1980s - but a new podcast series investigates alleged failures in the handling of the case. Picture: Anglia Press Agency.

But Unfinished revealed in July that the review never contacted key sources, whose names were known from the outset, who possessed important evidence.

Alston, now a board member at the NCA, said: “Your podcasts make a compelling case that it was not as thorough as I would have wanted it to be. If those documents named other professionals who might have had – well, as you’ve proved, did have – contemporaneous documents and knowledge of the case, for that not to have been pursued is, at best, disappointing.”

Interviewed for the ninth episode of Unfinished, he also responded to a recent internal report by Essex Police, which found repeated failures in one victim’s treatment – including “inexcusable” delays, failure to log allegations about a retired policeman as a crime, and failure to pursue numerous investigative leads.

Alston said: “Am I disappointed to see these findings? Well, of course I am. But it’s worth saying, isn’t it, that this is Essex Police Professional Standards who are making these findings and it’s a good thing that Essex Police is able to look into itself and find these faults.”

Mr Alston, now a director of the National Crime Agency, helped reopen the so-called 'Shoebury Sex Ring' investigation in 2016 after meeting with whistleblowers.Mr Alston, now a director of the National Crime Agency, helped reopen the so-called 'Shoebury Sex Ring' investigation in 2016 after meeting with whistleblowers.

Unfinished: Shoebury’s Lost Boys was named last week as one of the top journalism podcasts of 2020.

PressGazette called it a forensic look into the twists and turns of an investigation into a historic paedophile ring cover-up.

To listen or subscribe, visit: www.podfollow.com/unfinished-1/


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