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Fire service sex abuse claims probe

Detectives have launched an investigation into allegations of historic sex abuse within a fire service.

Bosses at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service were alerted to the claims, which are believed to be linked to activities at fire stations in the county during the 1980s, and have now referred the matter to police.

Neither the fire service nor Essex Police have confirmed the nature of the investigation but it is understood that the allegations are of a sexual nature, possibly linked to initiation ceremonies.

A spokesman for the fire service said: "During an internal investigation, senior managers 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."

Essex Police confirmed that a "number of people" have been spoken to by officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate but so far no arrests have been made.

Anyone who may have information which could help in the inquiry should contact the Harlow Major Crime Team on 01279 621802.

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