Decision on Stanbridge Earls School, Hampshire

CPS East of England decides no charges over Hampshire school

02/05/2014

CPS East of England has decided that no charges are to be brought in relation to allegations of sexual abuse of pupils by their fellow pupils at Stanbridge Earls School in Hampshire.

Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS East of England, Grace Ononiwu, has written to parents, and also to pupils who made statements to the police, explaining the reason for the decision. She has also offered to meet with the families involved.

Ms Ononiwu said: "CPS East of England was asked to look into this case after a complaint was made by the parents of one of the pupils over a decision not to prosecute by CPS Wessex on the grounds of insufficient evidence. The parents had originally complained to Hampshire Police about allegations of their child being abused by pupils at the school.

"I was tasked with carrying out an independent review into CPS Wessex's decision not to prosecute. It is part of our procedure that a different Area looks at a complaint if it cannot be resolved locally.

"As our review into the decision-making started, it became clear that a fresh review of the evidence was required, and not just into whether the decision not to prosecute was the correct one.

"In my opinion, it was vital to conduct a fresh review of the evidence, untainted by the previous decision that was made and placing it within the context of other allegations made by other pupils.

"It was necessary to determine if these were separate allegations of abuse against specific individuals or whether there was evidence of a wider conspiracy involving a number of pupils against a number of girls."

A further investigation was carried out by Hampshire Police and a file of evidence was sent to CPS East of England in September 2013. The review considered not only the original allegation raised by the parents of the pupil, but also separate allegations made by four other pupils against a total of 10 individual pupils, and an allegation of perverting the course of justice against two of the teachers at the school.

Ms Ononiwu said: "The material supplied was considerable and has now been reviewed in its entirety and decisions have been made as to whether any of the 12 individuals who were the subject of the investigation should be prosecuted.

"The conclusion I have reached is that there should be no prosecutions arising out of the evidence which has been provided to us. This decision is not based on whether we believe the allegations made by the pupils but on whether there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to prosecute.

"I appreciate this decision may come as a disappointment to those who made the complaints which is why I have offered to meet them to explain my decision to them face to face."