Chief Constable admits errors

The Chief Constable whose force investigated allegations of rape and underage sex against Ian Huntley admitted there were "system failings and elements of human error".

David Westwood was speaking at a press conference where he revealed Humberside Police had 10 contacts with Huntley between 1995 and 1999. They included a rape allegation by a 17-year-old girl for which former lover Maxine Carr provided an alibi.

Mr Westwood expressed "deep sorrow" at the murders of Holly and Jessica but said nothing had been recorded on the force's computer which pointed to Huntley's murky past. The Chief Constable said the Data Protection Act meant vital information had not been available at the time Huntley was checked for the post of caretaker at Soham College.

Mr Westwood said it would have been "extremely helpful" if his force had recorded that Huntley had been using two names when officers interviewed him over an alleged rape in 1999. "This was a simple human error," he told reporters.

Despite the allegations of four rapes on teenagers, three claims of underage sex and an allegation of indecent assault on a 12-year-old girl the only computer entry relating to Huntley was on a burglary offence that was never taken to court. Mr Westwood called for "urgent national guidance" on the Data Protection Act.

"We face here the contradictory nature of two public policies," he said.

"First is the Data Protection Act which requires the removal of information relating to individuals.

"Second is the retaining of information to protect vulnerable people. There is no national guidance on this.

"It is urgently needed."

He was repeatedly asked if he would apologise for his role and his force's role in Huntley slipping through the net.

He replied: "I am sorry the force had weaknesses in its system, I am sorry there were individual failings, however the fact remains there was nothing on the system, and nothing within the system due to an honest and forthright attempt to comply with the Data Protection Act."

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