Norfolk police chief says schools face ‘Me Too' moment over abuse
- Credit: PA
Schools may have covered up sexual offences to protect their reputations, the chief constable of Norfolk police has said.
Simon Bailey said that the torrent of allegations could become the education sector's "Me Too" moment, and he was concerned that a "culture of misogyny and sexual harassment" had not been challenged in some schools.
Mr Bailey is the lead officer for Operation Hydrant and the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for child protection.
Operation Hydrant was established in 2014 to deliver the national policing response, oversight, and coordination of non-recent child sexual abuse investigations concerning persons of public prominence or in within institutional settings.
Mr Bailey said: "If somebody has been privy to rape or serious sexual assault then we want to hear from them.
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"What I fear is that there will be a number of sexual predators that will have moved from secondary school to university where they will continue to offend."
Students took to the loudspeaker to highlight violence, sexual assault and harassment and express their support for women.
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A number spoke about their experiences of assault and harassment on the UEA campus.
Some Norfolk school pupils have also taken part in protests.
Asked whether some schools had covered up reports to protect their reputation, Mr Bailey told The Times that he did not have evidence of that.
But he added: "Am I naive enough to think that hasn't happened? Of course I'm not.
"Do I think there will be circumstances where abuse will have been covered up to protect reputations? Yes I do."
He said there was a "real issue" surrounding "what children now see and view as healthy sexual relationships".
He told Radio 4's Today programme that "ready" access to pornography was a "driver" behind this.
The website Everyone's Invited, set up last year as a place for victims can post anonymous accounts of abuse, has now received more than 6,000 testimonies - including accounts from children as young as nine.
Tory MP Robert Halfon, who chairs the education select committee, has called for an independent inquiry to be launched into allegations of a "rape culture" at a number of independent schools.
Ministers have said anyone making allegations will get support and protection.
A Government spokesperson said: "We are very concerned by the significant number of allegations recently posted on the 'Everyone's Invited' website. The abuse of children and young people in all its forms is abhorrent.”