Police contact over 100 families about alleged sexual abuse at Torquay nursery

Children as young as two have been identified as potential victims by police investigating alleged sex offences at a nursery.

A male member of staff at Jack and Jill Childcare in Torquay has been questioned and detectives have contacted over 100 families whose children would have attended during the period under investigation. It is understood around dozen families may have been directly affected.

After the inquiry was launched, police uncovered “a number of concerns around safeguarding matters” and on October 24 Ofsted suspended the nursery’s licence.

Devon and Cornwall Police acting Detective Chief Inspector James Stock said officers scoured over 250 hours of CCTV from the nursery and a number of children aged two and over were “identified as potential victims of further contact offences”.

He said the alleged offences “appear to be the actions of a lone individual” and did not involve the taking or distributing of images.

The suspect, a teenager, was arrested in July and later released under police investigation with strict conditions banning him from going near the nursery. Police said he had since left the force area.

Mr Stock said: “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.”

An Ofsted notice in a window at the nursery said the suspension would last until December 24, but added: “We will regularly review the situation and will stop the suspension within this period if we believe children are no longer at risk.

“Suspension does not automatically mean that a provider is unsuitable to provide care in the future or that we will cancel registration.

“We only take steps to cancel registration if we consider that the provider is no longer suitable to provide childcare.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Ben Birchall / PA Wire.

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