Detectives have launched an investigation into allegations of historic sexual abuse at the former Bembridge School, Island Echo can exclusively reveal.

Hampshire Constabulary has started a criminal investigation looking at whether children at the private independent school were sexually abused during the 1980s.

‘Operation Seaside’ has been set up to gather information to assist Police with their investigations, with detectives keen to understand the nature and wider circumstances of what is being alleged to have occurred over 30 years ago.

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The former school, which taught children aged 9-17, has been closed for a number of years, shutting its doors on 23rd September 1997.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary has told Island Echo:

“We have received a report of sexual offences alleged to have taken place at Bembridge School some time in the 1980s.

“Our enquiries are ongoing and at this time we are not in a position to confirm any further details.

The site of the former Bembridge School is now owned by Ryde School with Upper Chine, but Head Master Mark Waldron has confirmed it had no connection with the running of the establishment at the centre of these shocking claims.

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In a statement, Mr Waldron has said:

“Ryde School merged with Upper Chine Girls’ School in 1994 and later acquired the buildings and land of Bembridge School when it was closed by the Bembridge School trustees in 1997. Ryde School has used part of the site since then to house boarding pupils and leases the remainder to an outdoor education company.

“Ryde has always warmly welcomed the past pupils from Bembridge as part of our wider story; however the schools were not linked prior to the site acquisition and, whilst deeply saddened to hear of any historical allegations and willing to help the police in any way possible, I cannot pass comment on another school’s history”.

Anyone with information or concerns relating to allegations of sexual abuse at Bembridge School is encouraged to report this to Police on 101, quoting ‘Operation Seaside’.

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If you have experienced non-recent abuse, there is support available:

  • NAPAC is the National Association for People Abused in Childhood. Trained staff speak with survivors of any type of childhood abuse
  • Survivors UK offers a range of support services to men who experienced childhood or adult sexual abuse
  • Rape Crisis England and Wales, provide a directory of local support services
  • Samaritans is available around the clock 365 days of the year to provide confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair

Editor’s footnote: Comments have been turned off on this article for legal reasons. I encourage anyone with information, no matter how small, to get in touch with Police. 

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