Essex Police to investigate children in care abuse claims

Image caption Essex Police said its investigation concerned children, particularly boys, in local authority and foster care during the 1980s and 1990s

An inquiry into allegations of historical abuse of children in care in Essex could involve "more than 40 victims", it has emerged.

The review, which follows a Yellow Advertiser story, centres on children in local authority and foster care, during the 1980s and 1990s.

Essex County Council said the "child abuse concerns" related to staff it employed during the 1980s and 1990s.

The police are currently reviewing all evidence from the period concerned.

Police said the concerns were raised during their meeting with retired district psychologist Robin Jamieson, former Suffolk clinician manager Jenny Grinsted and youth worker and probation officer Rob West.

"At the meeting serious concerns were raised about alleged sexual offences committed against children," a force spokesman said.

Image caption Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, was at the meeting with care professionals who voiced concerns

Essex County Council, which is responsible for children in care, has declined to be interviewed about the police review.

David Finch, leader of the council, said in a statement: "We are aware of historical child abuse concerns in relation to individual members of staff employed by Essex County Council in the 1980s and early 1990s.

"We know that concerns were investigated at that time by the council and Essex Police, and appropriate actions were taken in accordance with the evidence available and convictions secured."

But Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex and who was present at the meeting, told the BBC: "The concerns of the professionals who spoke to us were that there were more, many more, victims - perhaps more than 40 victims who may not have had the right kind of safeguarding.

"Those are the sort of numbers we are talking about."

Both the police and Mr Finch have urged victims of, or witnesses to, sexual abuse during the period being looked at to contact Essex Police on 101 and ask to speak to a specialist officer in its child abuse investigation team.

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