UK

Child protection body failed over paedophile reports

Martin Goldberg, Myles Bradbury, Gareth Williams Image copyright Other
Image caption Martin Goldberg, Myles Bradbury and Gareth Williams were all questioned after the Canadian tip-offs

Information on 2,345 British paedophile suspects supplied by Canadian police was "poorly handled" by the body set up to protect children, a report has said.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission found the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) had not dealt with the material properly.

Toronto Police alerted Ceop to website users who had bought films thought to contain indecent images of children.

It was sent in July 2012, but had not been forwarded to police by late 2013.

It was only when Toronto Police again contacted Ceop in October that year for an update on progress that the oversight was found.

Officer investigated

The intelligence from the operation, called Project Spade, was used in the prosecution of Cambridge doctor Myles Bradbury who was jailed for abusing young cancer patients.

A BBC investigation found the blood cancer specialist had abused eight of his victims during the 16 months the Ceop had information on him.

The crimes of Cardiff deputy head teacher Gareth Williams, who secretly filmed pupils, also came to light as a result of the investigation by Canadian police.

A court heard his offences took place up until January 2014, nearly two years after his name was given to Ceop.

Another person named was Essex deputy head teacher teacher Martin Goldberg, who was found dead a day after police questioned him.

A police officer, who had been seconded to Ceop at the time from a regional force, faced misconduct proceedings for allegedly failing in his duties and responsibilities.

At a meeting on Monday the allegations against him were found to be not proven.

'Very disappointed'

The IPCC report into Ceop has not been released because it is "operationally sensitive" and instead the findings have been given in a news release.

The complaints watchdog said the initial handling of the material from the Canadian investigation had been appropriate.

But how it had been referred on afterwards was a concern.

It said there was evidence of a "lack of a general understanding or agreement as to who had ownership of the issue for some time", and "disagreements as to which team within the organisation might have the capacity to take the lead and consider and process the information most appropriately".


Analysis

By Sally Chidzoy, home affairs correspondent, BBC East

Today we still don't know exactly why Bradbury's name and those of 2,334 other British paedophile suspects handed to Ceop in London by police in Toronto sat gathering dust for 16 months.

It's now official that they were disorganised. But the devil is in the detail.

Why did no one take "ownership" of the intelligence? Who should have done that? Why was there a "lack of general understanding" in an organisation that had long been praised for its work on tracking paedophiles.

Was funding an issue that led to the backlog of cases that led to this failure?

Had Ceop got a grip, Bradbury would not have had the opportunity to go on and abuse another eight boys "in his care".

Multiply that abuse by the number of suspects who remained unchallenged and undetected during that time and beyond, the number of children at risk would have been considerable.


'Angry and hurt'

At the time, Ceop was under the command of the Serious Organised Crime Agency. The National Crime Agency (NCA) replaced Soca in October 2013.

The NCA said none of its officers had faced any misconduct charges, but one had received "words of advice".

It said there had been two internal reviews to ensure that processes were improved, and all of these reviews' recommendations had been implemented.

The parent of a young boy who was treated by paedophile doctor Bradbury said she was "disappointed" at the lack of accountability.

Claire Yeoman, whose three-year-old son Declan was a patient, but not identified as a victim, said: "No one seems to have taken responsibility for any of the actions that have caused so much grief.

"I'm very, very disappointed, angry and hurt about it".

A spokesman said the NCA's Ceop Command had "transformed significantly" during the last 18 months.

And he added that in 2015 to 2016, 1,802 children were safeguarded or protected as a result of NCA activity.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites