Four-year anti-corruption investigation into North Essex Child Abuse Unit leads to convictions

Detective Constables Sharon Patterson and Lee Pollard have been found guilty of misconduct in public office committed “multiple acts of dishonesty” after failing victims of Child Sex Abuse seeking their help.

The case was heard by Judge Nigel Lickley QC at the Old Bailey in March 2019. During the trial, the jury heard that Patterson forged a signature on a victim’s witness statement to enable an investigation to be closed. They also heard that Pollard destroyed potential evidence in the home of a suspect accused of child sex abuse. Judge Lickley QC stated that the Detectives “failed the victims” and sentenced DC Pollard to 18 months imprisonment and DC Patterson to two years imprisonment.

The officers, who were engaged in an extra-marital affair at the time, cited poor administration as the reason for the failures in the investigation and denied committing the offence during the period 2011 and 2014.

Ms Healy QC for the Crown Prosecution Service stated that the Officers acted with “a combination of laziness, self-preservation and a cynical disdain for complainants”.

The Police Officers both worked in the North Essex Child Abuse Unit. The offences were uncovered during a four year anti-corruption investigation into the Child Abuse Unit by Norfolk Police.  296 child abuse cases were reviewed, 55 of which were referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.  Thirty officers were investigated. Pollard and Patterson were the only two officers charged with an offence. A third officer was dismissed for gross misconduct.

Sarah Green, the IOPC regional director stated that: “It is inexcusable for any officer to deliberately fail in their duties, [but] it feels particularly reprehensible that officers with responsibility for investigating child abuse investigation allegations behaved in a manner that risked allowing child abusers to go unpunished.”

At Farleys, our specialist team has represented countless individuals who have been failed by the police during an investigation, whilst in police custody or in prison. If you require legal advice relating to action against the police or prison service, please call our specialist team on 0845 287 0939 or send your enquiry through our online contact form.