A serving police officer at Hertfordshire Constabulary appeared at Peterborough Magistrates' Court on Monday, charged with a number of serious child sexual abuse offences.

James Ford, 30, who is an intervention officer based in East Herts, was released on bail until Friday, November 26, when he is due to appear at Cambridge Crown Court for a pre-trial hearing.

He has been suspended since Friday, October 22 this year, having served with the force for just under two years.

Following an independent investigation by officers in Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s Public Protection Unit, he was charged with assault of a girl under 13 by touching, assault of a girl under 13 by penetration, two charges of rape of a girl aged under 13 and a final charge of committing an act or series of acts to pervert the course of justice.

Deputy Chief Constable Bill Jephson said: “I am deeply concerned that a serving Hertfordshire officer has been charged with such serious offences.

“I also fully recognise that members of the public will also be concerned by this news; however we now need to let criminal proceedings take place and avoid any speculation that could impede the case as it progresses through the court system.”