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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 June, 2004, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Blunkett 'must share Soham blame'
David Blunkett
Some Bichard Report recommendations apply to Blunkett
The chief constable of North Wales has called on the Home Office to stop looking for scapegoats in the wake of the Bichard Inquiry.

Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom said many of the report's recommendations apply to the Home Office and the home secretary, not to the police service.

David Blunkett has threatened legal action if police chiefs do not suspend a chief constable named in the report.

The report criticised Humberside's David Westwood for poor record-keeping.

Police chiefs are refusing to comply with the home secretary's order to suspend Mr Westwood of Humberside Police after Sir Michael Bichard highlighted his force's failure to keep records of allegations of sexual assault against Ian Huntley before he moved to Soham.

On 17 December 2003 Huntley was found guilty of murdering the schoolgirls Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells.

The Police Reform Act 2002 allows the home secretary to force the suspension of a chief constable in the interests of "efficiency and effectiveness".

Scapegoat split

Mr Brunstrom told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme the Bichard inquiry report directed much of its criticism at successive home secretaries, including Mr Blunkett, for their "lack of leadership" over recent years.

He said: "A significant number of the 31 recommendations in the report apply to the Home Office and Home Secretary, not to the police service.

"I rather wish that some more people from the Home Office were standing up to take responsibility for this."

David Westwood at his desk
I should emphasise that I have not required the police authority to sack Mr Westwood
Home Secretary David Blunkett

Debra Shipley, the Labour MP for Stourbridge told the BBC Mr Blunkett was right to calling for Mr Westwood's resignation.

She said: "The Bichard report was a very clear look at what happened.

"Cambridgeshire was shown to have been poor in what it had done ... but in Humberside the report showed it had an embedded, very poorly administrated system which was poorly managed and that's down to the chief constable."

"The whole thing was a huge failure from the top," she added.

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