Confusion ‘led to paedophile delay’
Martin Goldberg, 46, was found dead at his home in Shoeburyness, Essex, in September after being visited by Essex Police investigating claims that he had bought indecent images of children online.
After his death it emerged the deputy head, who worked at Thorpe Hall School, Southend, had used a hidden camera to take hundreds of images of children as young as nine.
The case highlighted concerns over how long it took British police forces to act on intelligence passed to them about hundreds of suspected paedophiles by Canadian authorities as part of an international investigation dubbed Operation Spade.
Nick Alston, police and crime commissioner for Essex, has issued a fresh statement providing new detail about how the delays came about.
He said: ” On learning of Goldberg’s activities, I asked chief constable Stephen Kavanagh for an urgent explanation as to what had happened.
“With regard to Essex Police’s delay in vetting the occupation of Goldberg, it is believed that what went wrong was a misinterpretation of an ambiguous phrase used by the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (CEOP) in their assessment of the Project Spade packages as they passed the material over.
“However, that detail is rightly being looked at by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and it would be wrong of me to pre-empt any investigation.
“There is very little police work that is as important as the protection of children from harm.
“We must continue to place the protection of victims and the investigation of those who cause harm at the centre of our actions.”
Keith Bristow, director general of the National Crime Agency (NCA), has apologised in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee after it emerged his organisation took a year to pass on the Goldberg tip-off.
CEOP, which was taken in to the NCA, received the data from Canadian Police working on Operation Spade in July 2012 but did not contact Essex Police for a year.
The police force received intelligence packages on 35 people, including Goldberg, but officers took a further year to act on his case.
Figures obtained by the Press Association last month showed that more than 200 suspects were still being investigated after information was first passed to police.
The figures also showed that from a total of 724 referrals made to the 21 forces which were able to provide a breakdown, 34 people had been charged and five had accepted cautions.