SCHOOLS SEX ABUSE SHOCK

By basildon@yellowad.co.uk in

TEACHERS accused of child sex abuse are being disciplined instead of reported to police.

Data released by Essex Council after legal action by the YA revealed that more than 85 per cent of sexual abuse accusations in the county’s schools are never passed on to police.

In the last five financial years 88 teachers and 58 non-teaching staff have been ’investigated’ internally over sexual abuse claims.

Of the employees probed, 37 were placed on a list banning them from ever working with children again for Essex Council, while 26 were sacked and 91 were internally ’disciplined’.

However, Essex Council said in response to a Freedom of Information request that only 21 of those cases were reported to police.

Peter Saunders, founder of child abuse charity the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), said the figures were ’absolutely outrageous’.

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He said: "We have over 90 of what one assumes must have been highly credible allegations resulting in internal discipline. Surely the police should be informed of any and every allegation. This isn’t about a kid cheating on an exam. This is an allegation of a serious criminal offence."

In the year 2010/11, 27 teachers and non-teaching staff were investigated over sex abuse claims, resulting in 10 being sacked and 10 being placed on the council’s List and Indices document.

Inclusion on the document precludes the individual from working with adults or children in any role at Essex Council, but does not prevent them from working with children at non-council run organisations.

The list is available on request to all schools in Essex but until earlier this year, following a YA investigation, was not available to academies.

Despite 10 allegations resulting in staff members being added to the list, just two of that year’s cases were referred to police.

Neither Essex Council nor individual schools are breaking any law by failing to report allegations of sexual abuse. There is no legal requirement for schools to report abuse to the authorities, even if it is witnessed by another staff member.

NAPAC is currently lobbing central Government to introduce mandatory reporting.

Peter Saunders said: "Abuse must be reported to police. It shouldn’t be down to the school to decide whether that happens. The schools are more interested in protecting their own reputations than in protecting children, and here is the evidence."

An Essex Council spokesman said allegations resulting in disciplinary measures were considered ’founded’.

He said all abuse allegations were investigated in accordance with ’multi agency child protection guidance’ and were ’discussed’ with police.

He said: "Any action taken by the police is separate to any action schools take via suspension and disciplinary procedures where allegations are founded."

Tory councillor Ray Gooding, cabinet member for education, did not respond to a request for a comment.

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