Major inquiry into historic and recent Thatcham sex abuse widened

Review by Alex Walters (pictured) will look at sexual offences committed by people in positions of responsibility within last 30 years

John Garvey


John Garvey



Major probe into Thatcham sex abuse is launched

A MAJOR inquiry into the handling of historic and recent child sex abuse in Thatcham has been expanded.  

The revelation came  today (Monday) from the independent body initially charged with investigating how former Kennet School teacher Robert 'Alan' Neill was able to rape and abuse boys in his care over a period of years.

Neill, employed at Kennet School from September 1, 1995, until November 9, 2007, was jailed for 21 years in March.

But, in a dramatic development, the review chairwoman has announced a major widening of its focus.

The review, which started in March, will now look at how all those who "educated, trained or supervised" child victims dealt with abuse claims in Thatcham between the late 1980s and 2015.

It will also consider the handling of the case of former Kennet School youth counsellor, Rev Peter Jarvis, who was jailed in June for inciting children to engage in sexual activity and for possessing child porn.

The hugely expanded review is being undertaken by West Berkshire Local Safeguarding Children’s Board.

Serious Case Reviews are carried out when there is cause for concern as to the way in which agencies or other relevant persons have worked together to safeguard an abused child.

Board chairwoman Alex Walters (pictured) said the review would now investigate the handling of any similar sexual allegations and examine the response of all agencies charged with the care of children and young people.

She added: "As a result of information gathered during the early stages of this review, its scope has been expanded to more broadly consider how local organisations handled allegations of sexual offences against children which were committed by people in positions of trust in the Thathcam area between the late '80s and 2015.

“This Serious Case Review is looking at sexual offences which were committed by people in positions of responsibility in Thatcham within the last 30 years.

"If you were a victim, were aware of something that concerned you or have information which could help me make sure lessons are learned, I’d urge you to get in touch.

"Information you provide will be managed confidentially and will ensure that the review and its findings are comprehensive."

Ms Walters went on: "I know it might seem a daunting experience to come forward but we will listen to you and your contribution could make a difference to help agencies work better to protect children.”

She can be contacted via 01635 503 300.

Meanwhile anyone who has information to share relating to other sexual offences or crimes unconnected to the area or time period covered by this review should contact the Police on 101 or call the independent Crimestoppers charity in confidence on 0800 555 111.

If you are currently concerned about the safety or protection of a child, call West Berkshire Contact Advice Assessment Service (CAAS) line on 01635 503090.

For more information about the West Berkshire Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (WB LSCB) visit its website: www.westberkslscb.org.uk

For more on this story, plus background, grab a copy of the Newbury Weekly News on Thursday.


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