Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Child Abuse Images

Peter Allott, Deputy Headmaster at St. Benedict's School, has been arrested and charged with possession of child abuse images. the story is in the Times (behind paywall) and in Ealing Today. He will appear before Ealing Magistrates sometime today (9 December).

The arrest was made by the National Crime Agency who apparently searched his computer. The specific charges are "offences of possessing, showing and making indecent images of children of category A and 2 offences of possession of extreme pornography".

I decided to look up what all this means.

The wording of the charge mentions "making" images. According to the CPS "The downloading and/or printing of indecent images of children from the internet, is capable of amounting to an offence of 'making' the image contrary to section 1 (1) (a) of the PCA 1978."

"Category A" indecent images of children are the most serious kind. According to CPS Legal Guidance, Category A covers "penetrative sexual activity and sexual activity with an animal or sadism".

"Extreme pornography" (again according to CPS Legal guidance) is images of:
a) An act which threatens a person's life; this is not defined in the Act and therefore should be given its ordinary dictionary meaning. The Ministry of Justice note of " Further information on the new offence of Possession of Extreme Pornographic Images" at paragraph 11 gives examples of life threatening acts.

b) An act which results in or is likely to result in serious injury to a person's anus, breast or genitals; this could include the insertion of sharp objects (although in some circumstances this can be done in a way that is not likely to result in serious injury) or the mutilation of breasts or genitals. It is likely to be difficult to prove that cases of 'fisting' involve images that show activity that is likely to result in serious injury so these cases need to be handled with particular care. Serious injury is not defined in the Act and should be given its ordinary dictionary meaning, being a question of fact for the District Judge or jury.

c) The Ministry of Justice note of " Further information on the new offence of Possession of Extreme Pornographic Images" specifically states that the reference to "serious injury" was not intended to expressly link into existing case law with regards to 'grievous bodily harm' contrary to sections 18 and 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (which has been interpreted as being capable of including psychiatric harm).
The NCA has stated that it is "working in partnership with local child protection agencies to ensure wider child safeguarding" and also "It is not believed at this stage that any of the charges involve any former or current pupil at the school". Since Mr. Allott is in a position of trust and authority within a school, there must now of course be an investigation to find out whether there has been any harm to children with whom he has had contact. That investigation will presumably involve multiple agencies, including the police, the local authority children's services and the Independent Schools' Inspectorate.

The school no doubt will have to be inspected again by the ISI. The sorts of questions they will need to be asking include.
  • Was any indication seen by other staff that Mr Allott had an unhealthy interest in children?
  • If so, how was the matter handled, and was a report made to the authorities in the way now prescribed by the school's safeguarding policy?
  • Does this incident reveal any weaknesses in the school's safeguarding arrangements which need to be corrected?
Peter Allott has been at the school for quite some time. He was Head of Theology, Head of Politics and Deputy Director of Sixth Form from 2004 to 2010, and then after time out as a research associate at the Von Hugel Institute, returned as Deputy Headmaster in September 2012.


  1. A huge fall from grace

  2. So much for Lord Carlile's assurances.

  3. More of the same, again and again.

    My hope is that no youth has been injured by the man, currently in custody and awaiting trial.

    I wonder what the Christmas Eve service at Ealing Abbey will focus upon, what with the trial of Peter Alott due for 23rd December.

    I'm sure that Benedictine buttocks are clenching in fear as Christmas amounts to an important annual earner for that W5 cult.

    PP Hartnett

  4. St. Benedict's is a wonderful school with exemplary teachers. My daughter has attended the senior school for two years and could not be happier after transferring from an international school.

    It is so sad that the school is enduring another issue of this kind, but it seems that many in British positions of authority have abused their power in this way. This incident is a microcosm of the investigation into current British political misconduct.

    My hope is that parents do not lose faith, and as demonstrated in the senior school carol service Monday, the support for the school is stronger than ever.