Inquiry launched into police handling of school case

Daily Echo: Stanbridge Earls school Stanbridge Earls school

AN internal inquiry has been launched into whether police involved in previous investigations into sex abuse claims at a Hampshire special school should be disciplined.

As previously reported, a team from the force’s public protection department have set up Operation Flamborough to probe allegations made by two former pupils from the Stanbridge Earls School.

Hampshire police said they want find out whether any “further criminal offences” have been committed against the known victims or other children attending the £39,000-a-year school near Romsey.

“Apalling abuse”

They will then assess the findings of a special educational needs and disability tribunal which found the school, which specialises in teaching children with dyslexia, failed to protect a vulnerable girl from “appalling abuse” at the hands of another pupil.

The Charity Commission has also launched an inquiry amid “serious concerns” about the way staff dealt with initial allegations.

Now the force said it will shine a spotlight on the handling of its own investigation into previous allegations as part of its case review.

A spokesman said: “Hampshire Constabulary’s professional standards department is considering whether a referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) or any other internal disciplinary options may be required as a result of the review.”

The force also remained silent on the number of victims that could be involved.

This comes as 30 parents have formed a campaign group to keep the school open after education bosses threatened to close the facility if urgent improvements were not made before its next inspection.

Worried parents contacted the Daily Echo about their fears for the future education for the children of their children, many whom have complex educational needs.

Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes has also stepped in by calling for “a period of calm” so children can concentrate on exams.

As reported, the tribunal found earlier this year that the school had discriminated against a girl and that a number of staff members failed to tell the youngster’s parents that she had complained of pain in an intimate part of her body.

Head teacher Peter Trythall has been accused of “a failure of responsibility”, while the Nursing and Midwifery Council confirmed that school nurse Melanie Bavington was under investigation.

The vulnerable youngster was found to have suffered “appalling abuse” at the hands of another student while the school was slammed by panel members for being “unsystematic, unprofessional, ad hoc and completely inadequate” when it came to protecting the youngster.

The tribunal later ruled that the school should pay the family £86,000 for costs they built up during the proceedings.

School bosses have vowed to work with outside agencies to make urgent improvements.

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