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Complex Abuse Inquiry – DESC Statement

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Following the conviction of a former youth worker for possessing indecent images of children in March 2018, an inquiry was launched by the Isle of Man Safeguarding Board.

Before his conviction the man had an association with the Department of Education, Sport and Culture (DESC).

In 2016, he was commissioned to paint a mural at St Mary’s Primary School in Douglas, funded by the Isle of Man Arts Council, but was not employed by the school.

An inquiry was launched after parents raised serious concerns having read about the court case in the local media.

It is important to note that the images for which he was convicted did not involve any children at the school.

The inquiry was chaired by the Government’s then Director of Children and Families, Debbie Brayshaw, and the DESC has cooperated fully.

All affected parents have now received a general overview of the inquiry’s findings and recommendations from the Safeguarding Board, which focusses mainly on school safeguarding procedures, as they were at the time, but identified opportunities to improve practice, policy and procedures across relevant departments to improve services.

These recommendations are wider than St Mary’s Primary School. It has been recognised and acknowledged by both DESC and the Department of Health and Social Care that rapid improvements have been made at St Mary’s over the last two years, and both departments are confident that the school is clearly demonstrating a commitment to keep pupils safe.

The DESC continues to work to ensure quality assurance processes in relation to safeguarding are robust and standards are both applied and complied with in all situations, no matter who is involved.

The summary of learning praises the ‘tenacity of parents’ who called for the review and said their ‘anguish cannot be underestimated’. Lessons have also been learnt about how anxieties and complaints from concerned parents are managed.

The Safeguarding Board is monitoring the speed of improvements against each of the recommendations to prevent a similar situation happening again.

The Minister for Education, Sport and Culture is currently writing to the families affected to apologise for the anguish this has caused them.

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