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APPEALS: KINTON APPROVED SCHOOL, WOKING, SURREY

APPEAL BY SURREY POLICE

KINTON APPROVED SCHOOL

WOKING, SURREY

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Surrey Police put out an appeal for anyone with information regarding child sexual abuse at Kinton Approved School in Woking to contact them.

Hundreds of people have been contacted by police investigating allegations of child sex abuse at Kinton and so far 17 people have been arrested or interviewed under caution in regards to child abuse.  However, a spokesman for the police said: “We believe there are a number of others who may have committed criminal offences.  We have active inquiries ongoing in liaison with Surrey County Council to try to identify these individuals where we do not have their full identity.

Officers have spoken to more than 200 people to “identify victims and witnesses“.  The number of children involved was unknown but they expect it to be a “large and complex” investigation.  “New victims and new suspects continue to come to light as we speak to more people,” the spokesman said.

At this stage we have over 1,500 inquiries that have been part of the investigation.

Although the investigation centres around Kinton Approved School from the 1970s to 2000s, it was also known by other names too.  A quick search also throws up files and information regarding allegations of abuse long before this.  In light of this, I thought it may be helpful to list its different titles and take a brief look at the site.


HISTORY

Names

  • Surrey Industrial School (Mythe House)
  • LCC Industrial School for Boys
  • Mayford Approved School
  • Kinton House
  • The Oaks Centre

Timeline

  • In 1887, Surrey Industrial School for Boys was transferred to a new building in Mayford, Woking from it’s previous site at Byfleet.
  • In 1889 the school was taken over by London County Council (LCC) and renamed LCC Industrial School for Boys, and began to take in boys from the London area as well as Surrey.
  • By 1933 it became known as Mayford ‘Approved School’.  These were new institutions created following the 1933 Children and Young Persons Act and were primarily for boys between the ages of 13 and 15 years old.
  • In 1938-39 there were allegations of bullying, following which the Chief Inspector undertook an inquiry. (See below)
  • In 1959 around a dozen boys absconded from Mayford.  They were eventually rounded up and it was reported they had run away because they were “fed up“.
  • In 1964 a nightwatchman at Mayford was attacked by a pupil with an axe and died. (See below)
  • In 1965 there was a change of management.
  • 1967-68 allegations of indecency were reported.  (See below)
  • 1970 and another incident whereby a number of boys absconded.  (See below)
  • In 1973 it’s status changed once again and became known as a ‘Community Home with Education’ (CHE) and was taken back under the control of Surrey County Council.  It was also renamed Kinton House.
  • In 1984 it became known as The Oaks Centre and is under commercial use.

FILES

As stated in my opening piece, allegations of abuse and evidence of their being something wrong with the home starts long before the 1970s.

Bullying: 1938: A file held at the London Metropolitan Archives is entitled: ‘Investigation into allegation of bullying.  The file is LCC/CH/D/MAY/1/4.

Bullying: 1938-1939: A file held at the National Archives is entitled: ‘Mayford Approved School: Chief Inspector’s report and inquiry into bullying at school.’  The file, MH 102/188, remains closed.

Death of a member of staff: 1964-1972: A file held at the National Archives is entitled: ‘Mayford (Kinton) Approved School, Woking, Surrey: staffing; death of a member of staff following an attack by a pupil.  The file, BN 62/2040, is an open document.

Indecency: 1967-1968: A file held at the National Archives is entitled: ‘Mayford (Kinton) Approved School, Woking, Surrey: indecency.’  The file, BN 62/2041 is closed until 2056.  (For the record, this extended closure will probably be due to the sensitivity of protecting the complainants named within the file.)

Absconding: 1970: A filed held at the National Archives is entitled: ‘Mayford (Kinton) Approved School, Woking, Surrey: mass abscondence’.  The file, BN 62/2042 is an open document.


KEITH HAMMERTON TRIAL, 2006

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Keith Hammerton

In 2006, former house warden at Kinton, Keith Hammerton*, was jailed for six years after he pleaded guilty to 10 counts of indecent assaults on two boys under the age of 16 who were in his care and common assault of a third.  He also admitted failing to appear on court bail at a previous hearing having run off to Ireland to avoid his court appearance, and two further charges of indecent assault (one of serious sexual assault and one of perverting the course of justice) were left on file.

Hammerton, who was 69 at the time of the trial at Guildford Crown Court, was from Battersea, South London.  The abuse took place during the period he worked at Kinton – between 1975 and 1981.  Interestingly, Hammerton was also a former business partner of Roger Gleaves, (the so-called ‘Bishop of Medway’) of the Mephistopheles Debt Collection Agency.

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Roger Gleaves

Get Surrey – 2nd November 2006: You can read the full article here.

A CARE worker who lured boys into sex with the promise of alcohol at a Woking care home was jailed for six years on Tuesday.

Guildford Crown Court heard how Keith Hammerton, 69, from Battersea, sexually abused boys in his care at the Kinton Boys’ Home in Mayford in the 1970s.

The court heard how Hammerton would invite as many as three boys at a time to his room to perform sex acts on him in return for beer from a barrel he kept there. He would perform sex acts on them too.

For the prosecution, Joanna Cutts said Hammerton, then employed by Surrey County Council as a house warden at the home, would, smelling strongly of alcohol, wake boys and expose himself before inviting them to his room to smoke, drink and abuse them.

Ms Cutts said Hammerton, a loner who had few friends, made one victim, who he abused regularly while he was aged 14 and 15, perform oral sex on him in the boy’s mother’s kitchen during a weekend visit.

She read statements from his victims, who, she said, were “extremely vulnerable” and had been placed in care following brushes with the law or difficulties at home.  “One victim said ‘he was a sort of father figure, perverted as it was. He was genial and approachable — different to the other staff’.  He was seen as a caring figure and was liked by the boys. He seemed supportive of the boys but he was a different person by night.

One night a victim was awoken by Hammerton exposing himself and was invited to his room.  He later reported Hammerton for allowing the boys in his room but stayed silent about the abuse because he supplied them with alcohol and allowed them to smoke. Hammerton was subsequently suspended.

Defending, Brendan Halligan described his client as a “lonely, inadequate, broken man” who had suffered from mental health problems throughout his life and believed his ill health meant he was “coming to the end of his life” adding that he no longer posed a threat to children.

“Mr Hammerton is a homosexual. He did his national service in the early 1950s and at that time his sexuality would have been enough to put him in a dock simply for being homosexual.  But there’s no excuse for what he did. He abused his position of trust, particularly with regard to one young child.”

He added Hammerton sought friendship with his most regular victim and had carried a Polaroid photograph of the teenager in his wallet since the abuse.


WHY THIS INVESTIGATION PROVES ‘HISTORICAL ABUSE’ MUST ALWAYS BE INVESTIGATED

Some people make very ignorant comments about child sexual abuse and that last sentence regarding the photograph (above) proves why they can be so wrong and hurtful to survivors of abuse.

‘It’s historical – leave it in the past’

Hammerton was still carrying around a photograph of a child he abused whereas that child carried around the trauma of the abuse he suffered.  He then had to endure the indignity of not only reliving his abuse in court, but also discovering his abuser was still carrying his photograph.  The affects of abuse doesn’t dissipate over time, it’s much like grief – it’s something you try to cope and live with.  Sadly many decide that living is no longer an option.  Whatever destruction abuse causes to a person, the perpetrator must always be brought to justice no matter how many years have past nor how old they are.

‘They are all jumping on the bandwagon or after money/fame’

This is one of the most insulting, blinkered and ignorant comments to make to survivors of abuse.  Nobody would wish to draw the kind of attention that Esther Baker, ‘Nick’ and James Reeves have all endured in the media.  The relentless attacks on them as people, the questioning of their mental stability, the goading and personal attacks daily on social media and the collaborative biaised reporting that attempts to discredit their cases by a select few of so-called ‘journalists’ is disgusting.  They haven’t done anything wrong.  They haven’t committed the crime.  They spoke out and are demonised for doing so.

And if you bother to ask any survivor if they are speaking out because they have pound signs in their eyes and are simply after compensation and then bother to actually listen to their response, you’ll get the same answer – No!  They simply want justice and recognition that they are telling the truth.

‘Why didn’t they report it at the time?’

This excerpt from Get Surrey explains quite clearly why this type of comment is so wrong:

“While many of the boys were scared to report what was going on, some complaints were made but appear not to have been properly investigated and even ignored. My clients allege that most staff chose to turn a blind eye to activities going on in the home, which they should have questioned.

Even when members of the staff brought their concerns to the attention of the headmaster, they seem to have been treated lightly, since Hammerton was first suspended but later reinstated.

It seems that those in charge of the home and the investigating authorities failed in their duty to protect vulnerable young people in their care, despite warning signs and numerous complaints by both staff and pupils.”

But even as adults, the ability to achieve justice or a simple acknowledgement that they were telling the trust was still an uphill struggle as allegations were first made in 1999 but police were unable to prosecute until further claims were made in 2004.


GOOD NEWS! THINGS HAVE CHANGED…

However, following that successful prosecution, Det Sgt Chris Goodman of Surrey Police stated: “Any allegation of indecent assault, no matter how historic, will be properly investigated.”  His words seem to ring true if these latest ongoing developments are anything to go by. So…


CONTACT DETAILS

If you are one of those who survived physical or sexual abuse whilst at Kinton, or you witnessed anything that could assist police with their inquiries, the contact details are as follows:

Anyone with any information they think would assist the police inquiry into the children’s home should call 101 and ask to be referred to the Complex Abuse Unit.

Those who would rather not speak directly to the police are encouraged to contact the following organisations:

National Association for People Abused in Childhood: 0808 8010331

Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Service: 01483 546400

NSPCC: 0808 800 5000

Victim Support: 0808 168 9111

Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111


REFERENCE/FURTHER READING

* There are a whole host of dubious connections related to Keith Hammerton, but I will reserve them for a separate blog post.

 

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