THE way a North Yorkshire police unit investigated the most serious sexual offences has been described as a “slow car crash”.

One officer told a disciplinary hearing: “It is only by the grace of god the wheels don’t come off.”

The comments came at a hearing into allegations of gross misconduct against Detective Constable Nick Lane in the force’s serious sexual offences unit.

It is claimed he was involved in multiple failures and discreditable conduct, including some which led to severe criticism of the force when a rape case collapsed.

For DC Lane, barrister Steven Crossley told the independent panel the officer was not given the training, supervision or resources to do his job by North Yorkshire Police. He said the force’s own policy on rape cases was that it should be at Detective Sergeant level.

The allegations go back to July 2014. DC Lane has been a police officer for 15 years but was not made a detective until 2013.

Mr Crossley read out comments from officers about the unit at the time.

One said: “It is only by the grace of god that the wheels don’t come off.”

Another added: “Some staff aren’t trained properly. Something down the line is going to go wrong, we are just trying to keep our heads above water.”

And another said: “We are investigating the worse type of offending here – child rape and rape cases, the most complex cases you could imagine, and I have got my hands up saying ‘help’, and I don’t get it.”

Mr Crossley said the officer had considerable issues in scheduling and appropriate lines of inquiry in cases of rape and sexual offences, and record keeping – but argued these did not amount to gross misconduct.

The nine day hearing had been told the officer, based in York, failed to release key documents which contributed to the acquittal of a rape suspect.

An appeal court judge later condemned the force over the most “total and abject failure to deal with disclosure” he had seen in 50 years.

George Thomas for the police said DC Lane had committed basic investigative failures, adding:”Blindingly obvious things were missed. Date errors were corrected over four consecutive dates.

“One of the most important failures was failing to record why a witness wanted to withdraw their evidence.”

The hearing, at Newby Wiske, near Northallerton, is due to deliver its decision today.