THE boss of a former Hampshire children’s home has been charged with the historic sexual abuse of nine young boys in his care, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Colin Davis, now 74, is accused of 36 separate accounts of indecency against the vulnerable youngsters spanning back to the 1970s and early ’80s.

The charges relate to a period of time when he managed the Salerno Road Children’s Home in Lordswood, Southampton.

The pensioner was charged following a lengthy investigation by specialist police tasked with reviewing all available evidence from allegations previously reported to Hampshire police.

The major probe was launched on the orders of the county’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes.

Davis was charged by detectives when he answered bail last week. All of the alleged offences relate to boys under the age of 18 who were living at the property during that time.

The 11-bed home was one of several children’s homes in the city at that time.

It closed in 2013 and was last year sold off at auction where it is understood to have fetched in the region of £300,000.

Initially it is believed to have been operated by Hampshire County Council as although the it is situated in the city, Southampton did not become a unitary authority until 1997.

Davis became a suspect and was arrested many months before he was charged, during which time a “significant” investigation was carried out by police, the force said.

The enquiry came under the umbrella name Operation Marmion - the name for the review of all non-recent cases of child sexual exploitation.

The enquiry was ordered by Mr Hayes and fell in line with national action to tackle the issue of historic cases.

The enquiry was supported by both Hampshire and Southampton councils as well as Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

Hampshire police said the investigation did not involve alleged offences at any other children’s homes or institutions.

Davis has been released on conditional bail and will appear before Southampton Magistrates Court on Thursday January 7.

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council last night said: “Hampshire Children’s Services has worked closely with the Police on historical abuse cases. We cannot comment further on these cases from the 70s and 80s and must await the outcome of the court hearing.”

Hampshire police are asking anyone with information to contact the Operation Marmion team by calling 101.

Under Operation Marmion Hampshire Police set up its own investigation team which has been working in partnership with Children Social Care leads from local authorities across Hampshire, Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

The operation has also had the support of the Independent Sexual Victim Advisers from across the region.

Mr Hayes said: “Protecting victims of child sexual exploitation has been a priority throughout this review.

“Initially due to last six months, it quickly became clear that more cases were emerging as a result of victims having the confidence that their experience would be taken seriously, it became clear that we needed to extend both the timeframe and team to allow the Constabulary to respond to these often complex investigations.

“To date, the review has identified the need to investigate 39 cases of child sexual exploitation and 13 outstanding missing persons.

“As is the case with other similar investigations being undertaken by other police forces, non-recent cases of CSE are expected to be a growth area for the next four to five years.

“As we understand more about the scale of non-recent sexual abuse, it will be critical for any lessons learned from the way cases were initially investigated to be taken into account, so that victims feel protected and supported and receive justice as soon as possible.

“I would encourage anybody who has been victimised in this way to report their experience by calling 101, in the knowledge that they will supported by all of the partners involved.”