The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is to investigate Wiltshire Police’s handling of an alleged claim of child sexual abuse made about former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath.
The probe was launched following allegations that were made about the force’s handing of the original investigation, which dates back to the 1990s.
The complaint is understood to have been made by a retired senior police officer. Wiltshire Police is now appeal for anyone who thinks they might have been a “victim” to come forward.
“Sir Edward Heath has been named in relation to offences concerning children. He lived in Salisbury for many years and we would like to hear from anyone who has any relevant information that may assist us in our enquiries or anyone who believes they may have been a victim.
“We are working closely with the NSPCC to ensure that any victims are appropriately supported. They provide trained helpline counsellors to listen and provide assistance.
“We take all reports of child abuse, either current or that occurred in the past very seriously. Victims will receive support throughout any investigation and associated judicial process.
“If there is evidence of offences having been committed we will ensure that, if possible, those responsible are held to account through a thorough and detailed investigation. This includes any other parties who are identified as having been involved in child sex abuse.
“Some people may never have spoken out about the abuse they have suffered but we would urge them to please contact us and to not suffer in silence.”
Sir Edward Heath was leader of the Conservative Party from 1965 to 1975 and was Prime Minister between 1970 and 1974. He retired from Parliament in 2001 and died four years later in 2005.
“My priority as Commissioner is to put the interests of victims at the heart of everything we do, as well as holding the Force to account for its performance.
“I would like to encourage any victims, or anyone with information which could help the investigation, to have the confidence and courage to come forward.
“We have often seen from high profile national cases that victims, who have not spoken of their abuse for many years, find their voice and speak out. I want any victims of child sex abuse, whether current or historic, to know they can have confidence in the service they will receive from Wiltshire Police.
“Whether abuse happened in the past, or is occurring today, whether those being accused are authority figures or not, allegations of crimes against children must be investigated thoroughly.
“While some people wait years before speaking out we would urge them to act quickly so they can get help as soon as possible. Our trained helpline counsellors are always on duty round the clock to listen and provide assistance.”