Serious Case Review Support
Dedicated NSPCC Helpline
- The School has worked with NSPCC to operate a confidential helpline number specifically dedicated to this case. The helpline is available 24 hours a day. You can remain anonymous and speak to a trained NSPCC specialist who knows the background of this case and can provide support and talk you through your concerns. The School is funding this dedicated number and all calls will therefore be free of charge.
- To access this please phone 0800 023 2642.
- For those living outside the UK, the dedicated NSPCC Helpline can be accessed by using Skype. Dial the number above and select the UK flag from Skype’s drop down menu. Alternatively, you can call +44 (0) 203 1883 500 or +44 (0) 203 222 410 and mention that you are making contact in relation to Operation Kalpasi / Southbank International School or William Vahey.
- Individuals can also access NSPCC by email on email@example.com. If you mention that you are making contact in relation to Operation Kalpasi / Southbank International School or William Vahey NSPCC can put you through to a counsellor.
- Children can also access confidential support via NSPCC’s ChildLine by telephoning 0800 1111, emailing or messaging a NSPCC counsellor via Online Chat on the ChildLine website at www.childline.org.uk.
Spotting Signs of distress in young people
It is advisable to give young people opportunities to talk about their thoughts and feelings and to encourage them to access the available support. Sometimes young people feel unable to talk about how they feel, however their distress may be communicated through their behaviour. As parents and carers you will be best placed to spot the signs of any changes. The development of some behaviours can act as a clue that a young person is experiencing a level of distress that requires professional advice. These include:
- Noticeable changes in behaviour
- Disturbed sleeping or eating patterns
- Declines in physical appearance
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in usual activities, appearing pre-occupied
- Expressions of feelings of hopelessness
- Expressions of feelings of self-harm or actual self-harm
Long-term reports from adult survivors of abusive situations suggest that access to specialist professionals is most effective when it is provided early on. If you are concerned about the well-being of a child or young person it is important not to delay, but to ask for help either by contacting your doctor.
Contacting the Police
Families with young people that went on trips organised by Vahey are entitled to request support in accessing information gathered during the Police investigations.
To make this request, contact either Westminster Children Services on +44 (0)207 641 4000 or the Metropolitan Police Child Abuse Investigation Team on +44 (0)208 785 8529 and asking to speak to someone in relation to Southbank International School, William Vahey, or Operation Kalpasi.
Families can receive emotional support (in addition to and separate from the support outlined here) and access to records through this route, now and in the future. All enquiries of this nature will be handled sensitively and with respect for confidentiality.
Additional organisations Southbank have engaged that know about the case and are available to offer support:
National Association of People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC)
- NAPAC are experts in helping people to recover from childhood abuse. They have excellent resources on their website www.napac.org.uk including a booklet entitled “Untangling the Web of Confusion” which can be accessed here: http://napac.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Untangling-the-web-of-confusion-leaflet.pdf
- For individuals aged 18 or over NAPAC also operates a helpline which is free from landlines and mobiles. All of NAPAC’s helpline staff are fully briefed on the Vahey case and available to speak to you confidentially to talk through concerns. You can contact NAPAC’s helpline on 0808 801 0331 in the UK. Those outside the UK can contact NAPAC by using Skype to dial this number and selecting the UK flag from Skype’s drop down menu. The helpline operates from 10am to 9pm Mondays to Thursdays and from 10am to 6pm on Fridays.
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation (LFF)
- LFF is dedicated to reducing the risk of children being sexually abused. They are experts in helping people to understand perpetrators’ motivations and behaviour and helping people to come to terms with what has happened. LFF also operates a free confidential helpline called Stop it now! and their staff are fully briefed on the Vahey case. If you have questions about how and why Vahey committed his abuse we would encourage you to contact their helpline on 0808 1000 900 (this number is free from a UK landline) or 01372 847161, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The LFF helpline operates from 9am to 9pm Mondays to Thursdays and from 9am to 5pm on Fridays. Individuals based outside of the UK can contact the LFF helpline by using Skype to dial either of the numbers listed above and selecting the UK flag from Skype’s drop down menu.
William Vahey taught at Portland Place campus from September 2009 to June 2013. Having left the School in 2013 to teach in Central America, Vahey was subsequently discovered in possession of a number of abusive images of students from Southbank Westminster campus and other schools, images which it would appear he obtained having drugged students on school trips that he ran. Vahey committed suicide following the reporting of these images to the FBI, and both the FBI and the Metropolitan Police have since that time been investigating the scale of his criminal behaviour over his entire teaching career. It is now known that Vahey’s criminal behaviour spanned over 40 years and may have occurred in up to 10 international schools in 9 different countries. It is clearly very upsetting to consider all of the lives which have been impacted.
It is standard practice in the UK that any case where there has been abuse of the most serious nature, the Local Safeguarding Children Board (“LSCB”) of the responsible Local Authority will conduct a Serious Case Review. The purpose of any such review is to reflect on the events which took place and to establish any lessons which can be learnt as to how professionals and organisations responsible for children can work together better to safeguard and promote their welfare. In the Vahey case, the Serious Case Review has been commissioned by the Tri-Borough LCSB responsible for Southbank (Westminster) and for all schools in its area. The review panel was chaired by Dame Moira Gibb and included members from the Tri-Borough LSCB and independent experts. Further information about serious case reviews is set out at pages 75 to 80 of the statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children (March 2015).
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