A Serious Case Review has found there were missed opportunities to save children in West Berkshire from being abused by people in positions of trust.
The Review follows the convictions of former teacher, Robert Neill, 63, and Peter Jarvis, 51, a vicar from Spencers Wood, Reading. Both were jailed for sexually assaulted children in Thatcham. Neill was sentenced to 21 years for offences between 1986 and 2003 and Jarvis was sentenced to 15 months for offences between 2008 and 2012.
The Review investigated how organisations handled allegations of sexual offences against children, that had been committed by people in positions of trust.
The West Berkshire Local Safeguarding Children Board found there were missed opportunities to prevent the abuse of children and that those with statutory responsibilities could have followed up issues of concern more quickly.
Alex Walters, Independent Overview Author:
The purpose of a Serious Case Review is to help keep children safe from harm by strengthening what is already done well and identifying areas of weakness which need to be improved in the future. As a result of this review I have found that there are a number of areas around the recruitment, training and knowledge of staff which I believe will help keep our children safer in the future.
My recommendations are focused around some key themes; raising awareness amongst staff of safe recruitment policies, making sure whistle-blowing procedures are in place and their use is reviewed to ensure they are effective, making sure that staff are vigilant in spotting potential signs of harm and feel empowered to report it. Organisations have already started implementing these recommendations and I wish them success as they continue this over the coming weeks and months.
Now that my review is complete I would like to thank all the individuals and organisations who wrote reports, shared records and had conversations with me. In particular, I would like to thank the courageous members of the public who heard my appeal and called me to provide information. It cannot have been easy for them but by sharing information and suggestions they made a valuable contribution to this report.”
In West Berkshire it’s not often that we need a Serious Case Review but on this occasion it was absolutely right that we look at how we might learn from this. We fully accept the conclusions of the report and will continue our work implementing the recommendations as quickly as we can.
Many of the recommendations included in the report were identified at an early stage and activity has been taking place since then to quickly implement changes. All the organisations involved share a commitment to improve working practices and we will continue to work together to ensure that the safety of our young people remain at the heart of everything we do.
The West Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board will robustly monitor the actions taken by the individual agencies in responding to these recommendations.”
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