Quest team to expand after securing justice for victims of non-recent child sexual abuse
Main article content
Our Quest team will more than double in size after securing convictions in 100% of cases that have gone to trial.
The team investigate non-recent child sexual abuse cases where the victim is now an adult and the abuser was an adult family member or in a position of responsibility over the victim at the time of the abuse.
Non-recent means the abuse has ended at least one year before to being reported to the police.
Two of the biggest sentences the team have helped secure were the 17 years handed to Andrew Dutton of Dean Street, Blackpool, who abused two boys in Benfleet in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the 13 years given to Simon Jacobs of Chase Lane, Dovercourt, for rape and sexual assaults committed 20 years previously.
In total, offenders tracked down by Quest detectives have been sentenced to 46 years and eight months in prison. A further 14 are currently awaiting trial.
As a result of the team's success and the quantity of cases they are investigating, they will expand from one detective sergeant and six detective constables to 14 detective constables and two detective sergeants.
The team has been funded thanks to additional investment from the taxpayers of Essex.
Quest is led by DS Shirley Cole. She said that although the length of time that has passed can be challenging – the team’s oldest case dates back 60 years – victims should be confident that any allegations can be investigated, no matter how long ago they happened.
DS Cole said: “People think it’s word against word and we’ll never be able to find proof, but we know what the Crown Prosecution Service want to bring charges.
“It can take time to bring these investigations to court but we are now beginning to see a lot of our cases coming to trial.
“Come forward and we will do our very best for you. All of us are very experienced in the world of sexual abuse investigations. There is a lot we can do to get cases charged.”
DC Jane Egerton worked closely with the victim in the Simon Jacobs case and said she understood why people may feel reluctant to speak out.
“People worry that they’re not going to be believed. They worry that because it happened such a long time ago that they won’t be taken seriously, or it won’t be looked at.
“People worry about the impact it will have on other family members, and some people bury it and think that’s the best way to deal with it. Often it’s been buried for such a long time that they don’t know how to get it out into the open.
“And others feel embarrassed or ashamed when clearly they’re not to blame. They were children with a lack of understanding about what was happening to them at the time.
“If you report a crime to us, you will be listened to, you will be supported and there will be a thorough investigation.”
Quest contact all victims in ongoing cases at least once every 28 days but increase the frequency when they think more support is required.
The team also work very closely with independent sexual violence advisors (ISVAs) and encourage victims to engage with SynergyEssex – an umbrella organisation of specialist charities who provide support to victims of sexual violence and abuse all the way up to trial.
DC Egerton said that the team are all committed to getting justice for the victims they work with.
“If we can play a part in the successful prosecution of someone who has escaped justice for so long, we can help the victim fine some peace and to move on in their life. Hopefully we take away the fear.”
If you have been a victim of crime, you can contact us through our digital 101 online service or by calling 101.
If you believe you, or someone else, are in immediate danger please call 999. We are here to help and keep you safe.