ESSEX FIRE Service is at the centre of a historic “sex abuse” investigation.
YT understands that, earlier this year, fire service bosses were made aware of allegations of, what they described, as “potential criminal activity” within the service.
It is understood that the matters are historic, relating to alleged assaults within fire stations in the 1970′ and 1980’s.
YT also understands that some of the assaults may have been centred around “initiation ceremonies” and may have had a “sexual dimension” to them.
The alleged assaults are believed to have occurred at stations through the county but including Tilbury fire station (which has now closed down).
The allegations have been passed onto Essex Police.
A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “We received a referral from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) to the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate in relation to a historic accusation of a serious criminal activity within ECFRS.
“A number of people have been interviewed but at this stage, no-one has been arrested.
“The investigation is on-going and so Essex Police cannot make any further comment at this sensitive stage.
“If anyone feels they may be able to assist, then they are asked to contact the major investigation team at Harlow Police station on 01279 621802.”
YT did ask Essex Police whether the “serious criminal activity” involved physical and/or sexual nature but they declined to comment.
The ECFRS has advised officers to “co-operate fully” with the police but has also asked them not to “draw conclusions” in relation to anyone interviewed by the police.
The fire service has offered counselling to colleagues and have also set up a 24-hour confidential hotline.
A spokesperson for Essex County Fire said: “During an internal investigation, senior managers at ECFRS were made aware of allegations of potential criminal activity within the Service.
“These matters were alleged to have happened some time ago, but due to their serious nature and following clear legal advice, managers referred the matter to Essex Police.
“Since then, the Service has been co-operating fully with the Police inquiry and has advised staff to do the same. While this investigation continues, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”