A MAJOR cold case investigation into the murders of three women in Teesside 20 years ago will also look at whether there was child sexual exploitation and also if there was misconduct among police officers, it has emerged.

Operation Pandect is looking into the murders of Rachel Glass, Rachel Wilson and Donna Keogh – but Cleveland Police has admitted there were ‘shortfalls’ in the investigation and is looking into potential police misconduct.

Part of the investigation’s focus will be whether there was child sexual exploitation and whether there are any previously unrecorded sex offences to be looked at, the force said last night.

New scientific techniques and forensics are also being used in a bid to catch those responsible.

Vicky Glass, 21, disappeared in September, 2000 and her body was found in Danby, North Yorkshire, two months later. Rachel Wilson, 19, disappeared in June 2002 and her skeleton was discovered on farmland in Middlesbrough ten years later.

Donna Keogh, 17, went missing after a Middlesbrough house party in April 1998 and her body has never been found, although all three cases are being investigated as murder.

Cleveland Police has won £3.77m Home Office funding for its Historic Investigation Unit to investigate the crimes, and the investigation could last up to six years, with police and crime commissioner Barry Coppinger having to reapply for more funding every year.

The investigation is following a number of independent reviews and pressure from families after the force acknowledged there were ‘shortfalls’ with the initial investigations.

This is understood to involve a fixation with investigating one person believed to be responsible, at the cost of ignoring other leads.

Last night Detective Chief Superintendent Jon Green, head of Crime and Justice at Cleveland Police said: “Cleveland Police has already recognised publicly that there were shortfalls in the initial investigations and we have met with the families to discuss concerns they may have had around this issue.

“From the outset, the Historic Investigations Unit has advised the families that these are extremely complex inquiries which will require meticulous investigation over a number of years.

"Part of the team’s on-going inquiries will naturally focus on whether there has been child sexual exploitation and we accept inquiries may also bring to light previously unrecorded sexual offences which will be investigated. The advancement of investigative techniques and forensic science may also provide new opportunities that have not yet been exploited.

“Further, if our inquiries identify any potential misconduct on the part of any police officer or member of police staff then that will be dealt with in line with current national guidelines.

“Finally... many years have passed and people may now feel in a position to come forward.”

Anyone with information can contact Cleveland Police via 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.