Victims of child sexual abuse in Nottinghamshire care homes say they are “hugely disappointed” after the force confirmed a key officer had left the investigation.
Detective Superintendent Adrian Pearson was head of Operation Equinox, an over-arching probe into claims hundreds of people were abused while in care in Nottinghamshire dating back to the 1950s.
He had won praise from a campaign group for winning the trust of victims and keeping them up-to-date with letters.
But on Friday Notts Police said he was ‘no longer part’ of the operation, without saying why.
Operation Equinox involves around 290 people who have alleged they were sexually or physically abused in Nottinghamshire – mostly while in the care of local councils.
Campaigner David Hollas, of the Nottinghamshire Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry Action Group, said Det Supt Pearson had “built confidence” with survivors of abuse and “was the first senior officer to meet the victims and give them a voice”.
Mr Hollas described Det Supt Pearson’s departure from Equinox as “highly disappointing”, saying: “He wrote encouraging them [survivors] to turn up to a listening event where we were trying to get the councils – Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council – to put into place report services for survivors of child sexual abuse.
“It was all about what they need now, to get to the point where they can rebuild their lives. He also updated them on the progress of police inquiries.”
Nottinghamshire Police set up Operation Equinox as an overarching name for the individual operations of Daybreak and Xeres.
Daybreak is examining claims made by former residents of council-run care homes which have now closed down, including the former Beechwood Community House, in Mapperley.
Xeres is investigating allegations related to Skegby Hall, a former approved school and community home with education until its closure in the early 1990s.
A Notts Police spokesman said: “The force’s commitment to Operation Equinox remains as strong as ever, with a consistent investigation team and a focus on bringing offenders to justice.
“While we can confirm Adrian Pearson is no longer part of the inquiry, the continuity of leadership and engagement with victims continues with Det Supt Rob Griffin, who is overseeing the investigation.
“The survivors’ groups have been kept informed of these changes, and the force will continue to liaise with them.”
Nigel O’Mara, a victim of abuse and the founder of East Midlands Survivors, said Det Supt Pearson was a “respected individual”.
He said: “The implications are, obviously, that somebody involved has been lost. Some of that experience, some of that communication will be lost. It will do some small damage at least to the investigation.”
Mr O’Mara said he expected the change to be discussed at the latest in a series of meetings between police, council staff and victims planned for Tuesday, November 22.