POLICE have been criticised for taking two years to launch a proper investigation into a Hampshire teacher’s inappropriate relationship with a teenage pupil.
Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board (HSCB) says the force’s initial inquiry into Tyrone Mark, later jailed for making indecent images of children, fell short of the standard expected.
In 2012 staff at The Arnewood School in Gore Road, New Milton, discovered that Mark was having a relationship with a female student.
But a report published by HSCB, a statutory body that oversees safeguarding arrangements for children across the county, says Hampshire police originally asked another force to look into the matter.
The teacher was not investigated until the end of 2014, by which time he had made more than 180 indecent images of children.
Last night critics claimed the two-year delay left Mark free to commit the offences.
Campaigning parent John Caine, of New Milton, said: “Evidence of his perversions was not recorded and investigated when it should have been.
“All the offences he was later convicted of could have been prevented had Hampshire Constabulary done their job in the first place.”
As reported in the Daily Echo, Mark was sacked from Arnewood after giving a pupil alcohol, condoms and even a key to his house.
He also wrote sexually-explicit notes about many of her fellow pupils, some of whom appeared in school photographs he kept at his home.
In 2014 he was found guilty of professional misconduct and barred from teaching by the National College for Teaching and Leadership.
Later that year Hampshire police finally launched an investigation after receiving a bundle of evidence - believed to be the teacher’s notes and photographs.
The HSCB report says Hampshire County Council was warned about Mark towards the end of 2012.
It adds: “The referral related to what appeared to be a potentially over-familiar but not sexual relationship between the staff member and a student.
“The case was referred to Hampshire Constabulary for them to consider whether any criminal investigation should be undertaken.
“As a result of the circumstances of this case, Hampshire Constabulary concluded that this was a matter to be considered by another police force.”
But the report says the matter was ultimately investigated by officers in Hampshire following a review carried out by an Assistant Chief Constable.
It adds: “Hampshire Constabulary’s initial investigation fell short of what can be expected.”
Following the 2014 probe police decided to take no further action in relation to Mark’s relationship with the pupil. However, during the course of their inquiry they discovered more than 180 indecent images of children on his computer and mobile phone.
Mark made the images after moving to Wales and none of them related to anyone associated with Arnewood.
In February last year the 40-year-old ex-tutor appeared at Southampton Crown Court and pleaded guilty to 17 offences. He was jailed for six months.
The Daily Echo understands that Mark’s relationship with a pupil was initially referred to Dorset police because he was living in the county at the time.
A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said: “We have accepted that our processes at the time of the initial referral were not suitable and we have since implemented our Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH). We are confident that these circumstances would not occur again.”
A Dorset police spokesman was unavailable for comment.