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County Council discuss Torquay nursery closure

Friday, November 15th, 2019 2:42pm

By Daniel Clark, Local Democracy Reporting Service

Image: Google Maps

More than 100 families have been contacted by detectives

Questions over whether any families in the Devon County Council area have been affected by an investigation relating to sex offences against children at a Torquay nursery have been asked.

Detectives have contacted more than 100 families whose children would have attended the Jack and Jill Childcare nursery.

A male employee, aged in his teens, was held after allegations of sexual assault were made and released under investigation. He has since been allowed to leave the Devon and Cornwall force area.

The suspect is currently bailed with strict conditions until November 22. Meanwhile the police investigation continues.

Cllr Rob Hannaford, leader of the Labour Group and chairman of the children’s scrutiny committee, asked questions about the Jack and Jill Childcare Investigation at Wednesday’s Devon County Council cabinet meeting.

He asked: “Are there any children and families in the Devon County Council area affected by the ongoing investigation? And if so, we are working with other key partners to make sure that they are getting the necessary help, support and advice?

“Even though it is not in our authority area, we need to show our due diligence and that that if there are any families affected by this, that we are pro-actively monitoring the situation to show that if help is needed, then it will be there.”

In response, Cllr James McInnes, cabinet member for children’s services, said that the council is not aware of any families (involved with the County Council) being part of this investigation.

He added: “However, the investigation is at an early stage. The police and wider services within the area are notifying families, while maintaining sensitivity to both the investigation and the family involved.

“The County Council have offered their help and assistance and I understand that we will be kept informed. If the situation changes and we are made aware of families affected by this investigation, then of course the council would provide any support and advice, working with partners as necessary.

“This is a very sensitive area and I am happy to keep you updated of any issues that come forward. We need to be mindful it is very delicate situation and we don’t want to identify any children.”

Dr Phil Norrey, the council’s chief executive, added that they had offered support to Torbay Council if they needed any help.

Up to 250 hours of CCTV from Jack and Jill Childcare in Torquay has been scrutinised and police have identified children as young as two as potential victims.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector James Stock had previously said: “On July 29 police received an allegation of a serious sexual assault at Jack and Jill Childcare in Torquay.

“A suspect was arrested on the same date and later released on police bail with strict conditions.

“As part of this, over 250 hours of CCTV from within Jack and Jill Childcare have been reviewed.

“As a result of CCTV inquiries, a number of children aged two years and over have been identified as potential victims of further contact offences.

“We have now contacted all parents and guardians of children who attended Jack and Jill Childcare in relation to our investigation.

“Specialist officers from the public protection unit and our colleagues from social services have visited the parents and guardians of those children we believe may be victims.

“They will continue to receive multi-agency support in the coming days, weeks and months.

“The contact appears to be limited to within the nursery setting over a limited period of time and are the actions of one individual.

“We do not believe that any other member of staff had knowledge of these matters.

“These appear to be the actions of a lone individual and the offences do not involve the taking or distributing of any images.”

Mr Stock added: “I can provide reassurance that the individual concerned was immediately removed from the setting and given strict bail conditions as part of their release from police custody.

“They have since been moved out of the force area whilst the investigation continues.

“Following further investigation, a number of concerns around safeguarding matters were raised by the police to partner agencies.

“Ofsted subsequently made the decision to suspend the licence of the nursery whilst they further investigate those concerns.

“We will continue to work with our partner agencies and those affected by these matters to progress this investigation.”

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