Tayside Police launch abuse handling investigation

A POLICE force has launched an internal investigation into its handling of abuse allegations at a controversial Scottish church.

Tayside Police have confirmed that a senior officer is investigating a complaint by a former member of the congregation at the Church of the Nazarene in Perth.

Former prison officer Robert Brown contacted the force's protection unit in 2008 to report claims that he suffered sexual abuse at the hands of an adult member of the church in the 1980s, but he says no action was taken by police.

Mr Brown, 39, has now contacted the force again to raise the original allegations and has also made an official complaint over their handling of his case.

A senior officer within the force is now carrying out an investigation into his complaint.

In a separate development, police in England, where Mr Brown now lives, are scheduled to interview him about the original allegations.

The Church of the Nazarene is best known for being the place of worship of Stagecoach tycoons Brian Souter and Ann Gloag, who are its most prominent members.

Mr Brown, who now lives in Southend, Essex, claims that he decided to raise the allegations after he began counselling and memories of abuse at the church came flooding back to him.

He says that he was unsure about exact dates, and for that reason Tayside Police said there was nothing they could do, even though officers had conducted an earlier investigation into abuse allegations in 2004.

A youth worker at the church was convicted of the sexual abuse of four boys at the church in the 1990s following a six-day trial.

Mr Brown said: "A few years ago, memories of being sexually abused by members of the church started to come to the fore, and I contacted Tayside Police's Perth protection unit in 2008 to air my concerns. I explained that although I didn't recall the exact names and details I did remember that I was sexually abused by members of the church over a period of time.

"Even with this information, I was informed that as I couldn't recall exact names there was nothing that could be done."

Mr Brown contacted the unit again in July this year when he found about the earlier abuse investigation.

He said: "I was then led on a merry-go-round between where I was supposed to submit a statement. Months down the line I am still no clearer."

Tayside Police have now written to Mr Brown to confirm their own investigation into the handling of the case.

A spokeswoman for the force said: "An individual did contact us on 23 July to seek advice regarding a historical alleged crime in Perth dating back 20 years.

"We were able to reassure him that any alleged crime, even those of a historical nature, would be fully investigated by us.He indicated that due to the fact that he now lived in England, he would seek assistance from his local police force.

"We have no record of a complaint being made back in 2008."