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Thatcham child sex abuse probe published 'early next year'

Thatcham teacher jailed for child sex offences

A WIDE-ranging probe into child sex abuse in Thatcham is nearly complete.

A Serious Case Review (SCR), launched by the independent West Berkshire Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB), was 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, who was employed at Kennet School from September 1, 1995, until November 9, 2007, was jailed for 21 years in March.

It was also charged with investigating the handling of the case of former Kennet School youth counsellor, the Rev Peter Jarvis, jailed in April for child sex offences.

But, in a dramatic development in September, review chairwoman Alex Walters announced a major widening of its focus.

The review is now looking at the way in which anyone who “educated, trained or supervised” child victims dealt with abuse claims in Thatcham between the late 1980s and 2015.

SCRs 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.

A spokesman for the LSCB, Martin Dunscombe, said: “This review is nearing completion and we hope to receive a draft report from the independent author, Alex Walters, before Christmas.

“It will then need to be formally approved by West Berkshire LSCB and shared with the Department for Education and Ofsted – but we expect to be able to publish it early next year.”

He added: “The purpose is to understand what happened, learn lessons and improve future working practices.

“Through their contribution to the review, organisations will already have identified areas of learning and will have begun implementing changes.

“An overview report will provide additional recommendations and an action plan instigated to ensure these improvements are made.”

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

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