Teacher Charged With Child Sex Offences

An assistant head teacher at a Portsmouth school has been charged with sex offences involving children.

Matthew Hill who taught at Lyndhurst Junior School in Crofton Road is accused of five counts of making indecent images of children. None of the pictures relate to pupils at the school.

The 38-year-old from Fareham is also charged with one count of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child under the age of 13 at Buckland Park adventure playground in Portsmouth on Sunday, December 23, 2012.

Police say there is no allegation of a sexual assault at this time. There was no physical contact and the child was not touched.

Mr Hill appeared before Portsmouth Magistrates Court on boxing day and was released him on bail until February 26, 2013, with conditions not to have unsupervised contact with children.

Detective Inspector John Geden from Hampshire Constabulary’s Public Protection Department said:  "Specialist officers from Hampshire Constabulary's Child Abuse Investigation Unit have visited a number of families as part of routine initial enquiries. Police are working closely with Portsmouth City Council to identify, contact and speak with people who may have further information.

"Detectives are responding swiftly and sensitively to ensure families are supported while an investigation and court case continues.

"At this delicate early stage of an investigation and court case, it’s important for people to avoid leaping to inaccurate assumptions about this situation. We know there will be concern in the community, but please work with us by contacting police to discuss any information or queries you may have directly."

Portsmouth City Council has established a dedicated helpline for concerned parents.  If you want to speak to someone for support and guidance, call (023) 9243 7800, 9am- 5pm.

Margaret Beel, Headteacher Lyndhurst Junior School said: "It is distressing to let parents know that a member of teaching staff has been charged with offences relating to children.

"This is upsetting for both parents and staff at the school, who are obviously shocked.

"The safety and protection of children is our number one priority and all staff are subject to enhanced CRB checks, before they are cleared to work

"We are working with the police to support this investigation, and I am reassured with how quickly this has been dealt with so far.

Julian Wooster, Portsmouth City Council’s director of children’s services, said: "We have worked closely with the police, and will continue to do so, in conducting enquiries that led to the arrest and subsequent charging of

Matthew Hill for offences relating to children.

"We would like to praise the prompt action of both the police and council staff in taking action and dealing with this quickly once aware of the concerns.

"We would also like to thank the community for their support in assisting the police with their enquiries."

Hampshire police are urging anyone with any information that could be useful to their investigation, to contact them on 101 - asking for the Force Enquiry Centre - and leaving a message for the Operation Barbet investigation team. Mini-com users can phone 01962 875000. You can also call the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111 if you wish to remain anonymous.