An investigation into why North Yorkshire Police delayed acting on information about potential paedophiles is focusing on 25 individuals who were named in intelligence, according to the police watchdog.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the 25 names were supplied to North Yorkshire Police by the National Crime Agency (NCA) arising out of Project Spade – a Canadian investigation into individuals suspected of accessing indecent images of children from a video production company.
North Yorkshire is one of three forces under investigation over alleged failures to act in relation to the Project Spade intelligence which was passed on by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), now part of the NCA.
The others are Essex and North Wales.
The IPCC inquiry began after Essex Police referred itself to the commission following a delay in acting on an intelligence package from the NCA in November 2013 which identified now-deceased teacher Martin Goldberg as a potential paedophile.
Goldberg, who worked at Thorpe Hall School in Southend, was found to have hundreds of images of children on his computer when he was discovered dead at his Essex home the day after police had called on him.
Following the Essex referral, the IPCC wrote to chief constables of all police forces in England and Wales to ask whether their force received Project Spade material from the NCA and if so to review the way they treated the information.
As a result, the police watchdog received referrals from North Yorkshire and North Wales Police.
In a statement, the IPCC said: “Information currently indicates that 25 individuals, believed to be resident in the North Yorkshire area at the time, were named in the Project Spade intelligence and that there were delays in acting on the intelligence received until late September 2014.
“North Yorkshire Police has confirmed that 17 individuals have now been arrested and bailed, four have been sent to other forces to deal with, two had previously been arrested on other relevant offences, one was dealt with other than by way of arrest and one is now deceased.”
IPCC commissioner Kathryn Stone said: “How police deal with child abuse is rightly of great concern to the families of those involved and society in general. It is vital that our investigation should examine how North Yorkshire Police dealt with the intelligence given to them by the NCA and what actions they took.
“We will be conducting a thorough and comprehensive investigation into this matter.”
The IPCC also outlined the terms of reference of its investigation into North Yorkshire Police. These include whether the force replied properly to requests from the NCA for updates on what they had done with the intelligence and what action NYP took based on the information passed to it by the agency.
The commission outlined the terms of reference of its Essex Police investigation last month and has yet to publish similar details about the inquiry with respect to North Wales Police.
The IPCC has also received a referral from the NCA relating to a failure to send out Project Spade intelligence received in July 2012 to UK police forces until November 2013.
Figures obtained by the Press Association last year showed that more than 200 suspects are still being investigated after information was first passed to Ceop by Canadian police in July 2012.
Controversy was sparked when it emerged that the tip-offs included information about disgraced Cambridgeshire medic Myles Bradbury as well as teachers Goldberg and Gareth Williams, who both secretly filmed children.
Williams, from Cardiff, is now serving a five-year jail term, but Goldberg was found dead a day after police first contacted him.
Following the death of Goldberg, 46, a search of his house was conducted and 7,257 indecent images of children that he had downloaded from the internet were found.
In addition, 1,468 images that appear to have been created by Goldberg were discovered, which included 465 images depicting nudity that appeared to have been taken or recorded at Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre swimming pool changing rooms.
A further 75 depicting nudity that appear to have been taken or recorded by Goldberg at Thorpe Hall School boys’ changing rooms were also found.