ALLEGATIONS that a senior police officer at Cleveland Police failed to report and investigate a former sex pest inspector are now being investigated by the police watchdog.

Former Det Insp Simon Hurwood, 53, was found guilty of gross misconduct in November 2018 for targeting junior colleagues for sex, preying on 21 women over 14 years.

He resigned in September 2018 ahead of a disciplinary hearing. It had already been decided there was insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal prosecution,

Shortly after the hearing Superintendent Bev Gill was suspended from duty – which the force stressed was a 'neutral act' – while it investigated whether there had been 'potential missed opportunities' to investigate complaints against Mr Hurwood.

Cleveland Police was spearheading an internal inquiry but it has now emerged that the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) took over the investigation in January.

A spokeswoman said: "We received a referral from Cleveland Police, in October 2018, following the completion of a misconduct hearing against (former) DI Simon Hurwood.

"The Cleveland Police investigation into his conduct, and the subsequent hearing, highlighted potential missed opportunities to investigate complaints against him – raised by senior officers – specifically during his time in the professional standards department (PSD).

“On initial assessment, we determined that this should be a managed investigation.

"However, following a further review and assessment of additional information provided by the force we decided, in January 2019, that an independent investigation would be required.

“The allegations are that a senior officer failed to report, progress and investigate a number of allegations within the professional standards department.

"The investigation is ongoing. The officer concerned has been served a notice, to inform them that they’re under investigation for gross misconduct, and has been interviewed.”

Supt Gill was the former head of the force's Professional Standards Department.

The investigation centres on whether she failed to take appropriate measures once she was made aware of Hurwood's behaviour, and 'wider potential breaches of standards of professional behaviour'.

Cleveland Police said it was 'important for... the integrity of the investigation that the individual concerned is innocent until demonstrated otherwise."