Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals could soon become one under plans to merge.
Essex Child Sex Gang Convicted
Four men have been convicted of manipulating and exploiting teenage girls for sex in Essex.
It follows two investigations by Essex Police into sexual offences and drug dealing.
One involved suspected child sexual exploitation and drug dealing in Chelmsford, and the other was centred on child prostitution at escort agency, Girls4you, based in Shoeburyness.
Two men in the Chelmsford investigation were convicted today in relation to sexual offences and supplying drugs to an underage girl.
She revealed how Mohammad Rostami had groomed her into believing she was his girlfriend when she was aged just 13 or 14.
Rostami, now 37 years -old, met the girl when he worked for a takeaway in Duke Street, in Chelmsford. He befriended the vulnerable and troubled teenager and gave her alcohol and drugs, resulting in her becoming addicted to cocaine.
They started a sexual relationship before he manipulated and exploited her into having sex with much older men in return for drugs or money.
When his interest in her fizzled out, she was exploited by Mehdi Zare, who arranged for her to have sex with other men in exchange for drugs or money.
A separate investigation was held into Girls4you - after two 16-year-old girls came forward and told police they had been employed as prostitutes.
Stephen Castle and Steven Davis, who ran the business, were convicted and sentenced last month.
Detective Superintendent Mark Hall, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate told Heart this type of crime is rare in Essex:
“Our officers recognise the signs of sexual exploitation and vulnerability, and we now have robust procedures in place to spot that vulnerability and to put in safeguarding measures before children become victims.
"These predatory men committed sickening crimes against their young victims, targeting them because they knew they were vulnerable. What these young women have endured is unimaginable.
"I pay tribute to them for their immense courage in coming forward and for giving evidence at court, enabling these men to be brought to justice. “
Two fairground workers have pleaded not guilty to charges they face over the death of a school girl on a bouncy castle in Essex.
An aircraft hangar has been damaged in a blaze at Southend Airport.
Residents and businesses are being encouraged to tell Essex County Council whether they can access superfast broadband.
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