Independent Police Complaints Commission
Officer given final warning for failures in indecent images investigation
A Wiltshire Police officer has received a final written warning following a gross misconduct hearing, after an IPCC investigation into how he progressed an inquiry into indecent images of children discovered on a laptop.
Detective Sergeant Tom Ellerby seized the computer following a report of concern about its contents. After confirming it contained indecent images of children he submitted it to Wiltshire’s High-Tech Crime Unit (HTCU) for further examination.
It was not examined for several months and in May 2014 DS Ellerby was informed that there was an indication that a person who lived at the house where the laptop was seized may have been responsible. The IPCC investigation found no evidence that DS Ellerby had taken any action to pass the information on to Wiltshire Police’s Child Abuse Investigation Team (CAIT) until 13 months later.
DS Ellerby also failed to record the suspected offender as a potential suspect on the police system at the appropriate time.
The IPCC investigation began in March 2016 after Wiltshire Police referred concerns about apparent delays in progressing the investigation of the indecent images. After analysing the evidence gathered as part of the investigation, the lead investigator determined that DS Ellerby had a case to answer for gross misconduct.
IPCC Associate Commissioner Guido Liguori said:
“DS Ellerby’s failure to take prompt action once he was told of the suspected identity of the offender has had potentially serious consequences. It is possible that an opportunity was missed to confront the individual’s offending earlier than was the case.
“The public can be assured that when concerns are raised about potential police failings, as in this case, the IPCC will take action and investigate thoroughly to ensure that those who may be at fault are held to account.”
The IPCC investigation also found there was evidence to suggest a Detective Superintendent had a case to answer for misconduct for a delay in reporting this matter to Wiltshire Police’s Professional Standards Department. Wiltshire Police determined that his performance was unsatisfactory, and he has received words of advice.
The criminal offender in this case later admitted a number of charges at Swindon Crown Court, including serious sexual offences against children. He is serving a ten year prison sentence.
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