Soham girls may still be alive if police had acted 'appropriately'

The murdered Soham girls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, might still be alive if Humberside Police had dealt properly with their killer, Ian Huntley, when he first emerged as a potential sex offender, government inspectors said yesterday.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary noted that if the police had acted "appropriately" when they first came into contact with Huntley in 1995 he would not have been able to obtain a job at the Soham school in Cambridgeshire where he met the 10-year-olds.

The damning findings from an inspection held in October 2003 were revealed at the public inquiry into how Huntley came to be given the all-clear by the police to work as a school caretaker despite a string of previous sex allegations.

Although Huntley was accused of nine sex assaults - four rapes, four under-aged sex allegations, and an attack on an 11-year-old girl - Humberside Police did not retain any intelligence on the suspect. An intelligence report which described him as a "serial sex attacker" was deleted from the records a year after it was written.