Penshurst; Fifth Arrest Over School Sex Allegations
23 July 2013, 13:31 | Updated: 23 July 2013, 13:43
Kent Police has arrested a 74 year old man from Tunbridge Wells on suspicion of misconduct in a public office.
The arrest is the latest in an ongoing investigation into the historic sexual abuse of children at a school in Penshurst, Kent.
A dedicated team of officers from the Major Crime Department in Kent, part of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, are now one year into the investigation and have identified 50 victims, located across the country and abroad, of sexual abuse at Swaylands School in Penshurst between 1967 and 1993.The 74 year old is currently in custody at a Kent Police station where he will be interviewed by officers.
The arrest follows four others into previously unreported offences of child sexual abuse at Swaylands School. A previous investigation in 1993 resulted in the conviction of two men for six offences each of sexual offences against children. Both were sentenced to three years for each offence, which ran concurrently and related to four victims of child sex abuse.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Fotheringham, leading the investigation said: "Following new information that was given to us last year, we launched a new investigation into the abuse of children at a school in Penshurst during 1967 to 1993. A dedicated team of investigators have identified a number of suspects and many people who are either victims or witnesses in this investigation.
"We now want to speak to anyone who has information or witnessed anything relating to the abuse of children, particularly anyone who worked at the school, either employees or casual staff, between 1967 and 1993. So far, our investigation has identified around 50 victims in this large scale abuse inquiry. We are committed to bring any perpetrators of this horrific crime to justice.
"Kent Police will rigorously investigate all reports of abuse where we have sufficient information to do so. My officers have also ensured that appropriate support is in place for the victims we have encountered. "
Anyone who worked at the school, or anyone who has information should call the dedicated appeal line number of 01622 654852 to speak to a member of the investigation team. This number will be staffed between 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday. If calling outside of those hours please leave a message and an officer will call you back.
Four other men, all arrested on suspicion of the sexual abuse of children, remain on bail pending further enquiries. A 70 year old man from Lancashire, arrested on 13 March 2013 is bailed until 11 September, a 70 year old man from Edinburgh arrested on 11 July 2012 is on bail until 5 November, a 73 year old man from Norfolk arrested on 16 July 2012 is on bail until 8 October, and a 61 year old from Berkshire remains on bail until 19 September.
Impact on victims has lasting effects
Peter Saunders, Chief Executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood said: "Although victims may find it difficult to come forward and speak to police about crimes that happened a long time ago, this investigation is important in bringing offenders before the courts. The impact on victims can have lasting effects throughout their lives. NAPAC is working with Kent Police to address the fears and concerns of those victims and investigating officers will pass our details on to anyone who needs our support.
"Our national free-phone support line is 0800 085 3330 or website www.napac.org.uk. NAPAC supports survivors of all forms of childhood abuse. If you are still struggling to come to terms with what you suffered as a child, please get in touch. We understand."
If anyone needs advice on abuse or serious assault, please see kent.police.uk/advice.
Other helplines available are:
Survivors UK, 0845 122 1201 www.survivorsuk.org
Childline, 0800 1111 (24 hours) www.childline.org.uk
National Association for People Abused in Childhood, 0800 085 3330, www.napac.org.uk
The Survivors Trust, www.thesurvivorstrust.org
Childwatch 01482 325 552 www.childwatch.org.uk
Kidscape 08451 205 204 www.kidscape.org.uk