Police chiefs across England and Wales have been asked if they failed to act on allegations against 2,300 suspected paedophiles.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has ordered chief constables to review how they handled material received from the National Crime Agency in November 2013 concerning alleged child abusers in their area.

The nationwide review follows two high-profile cases where police were accused of failing to act on intelligence arising out of Project Spade, an international sting that caught more than 2,300 people purchasing explicit footage of naked teenage boys over the internet.

It emerged last month that Essex police failed for nine months to act on information concerning Martin Goldberg, a deputy headmaster. Goldberg, 46, was found to have covertly filmed scores of schoolboys before killing himself on 10 September when he realised police were investigating him.

In a separate Project Spade case, it emerged that the Myles Bradbury, a cancer specialist at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, was brought to the attention of police before he admitted a string of offences on child patients in his care last month.

So far three forces – the National Crime Agency (NCA), North Yorkshire police and Essex police – have referred themselves to the police watchdog over their handling of Project Spade.

The list of suspected paedophiles was passed to the UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) by Toronto police in July 2012. Ceop, which became part of the NCA when it was founded in October 2013, failed to disseminate the intelligence to l ocal forces until November 2013.

An IPCC spokeswoman said: “We have three referrals related to material sent to forces by the NCA in November 2013. Those referrals are from the NCA, Essex police and North Yorkshire police and are currently being assessed.

“Separately, on 7 October, the IPCC wrote to the chief constables of all police forces in England and Wales. They were asked whether their force received material from the National Crime Agency originating from Project Spade and, if so, to review the way they treated it to determine whether or not there are matters that should be referred to the IPCC.”

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