A MULTI-AGENCY safeguarding team has been told it “missed opportunities” to prevent the abuse of children, including one who was raped in a cupboard by a teacher and some who were lured into sexual activity by a disgraced reverend.

West Berkshire Local Safeguarding Children Board, comprised of members from West Berkshire Council, Thames Valley Police and other agencies, has been told to make improvements to its safeguarding of children.

The call came after shamed Robert Neill, 63, and Peter Jarvis, 51, were jailed separately for a string of sex offences.

Neill, formerly of Park Lane, Thatcham, abused children while he worked as a teacher at The Kennet School between the 80s and early 00s. He was jailed for 21 years after he was convicted of raping a schoolboy and subjecting others to horrific abuse.

Jarvis, formerly of Clares Green Road in Spencers Wood, was jailed for 15 months after he plied schoolgirls with gifts in his role as a school counsellor and tried to incite them into sexual activity.

He was immediately suspended from his position as rector of Loddon Reach Benefice.

Following their jail sentences, a review was commissioned to look into how the council handles allegations of sexual offences against children which were committed by people in positions of trust.

Fran Gosling-Thomas, Chair of the West Berkshire Local Safeguarding Children Board, said: “In West Berkshire it’s not often that we need a Serious Case Review but on this occasion it was absolutely right that we look at how we might learn from this.

"We fully accept the conclusions of the report and will continue our work implementing the recommendations as quickly as we can.”

The report found there were missed opportunities to prevent abuse of children and agencies and individuals with legal responsibilities could have followed up issues of concern.

Alex Walters, author of the report, said: “The purpose of a Serious Case Review is to help keep children safe from harm by strengthening what is already done well and identifying areas of weakness which need to be improved in the future.”

Mrs Walters' report urged the council’s safeguarding board to implement a series of recommendations, including a programme of awareness and training on safer recruitment and making sure organisations have whistleblowing procedures in place.

The report also recommended finding ways to raise awareness of spotting signs of harm and how to report it.

“My recommendations are focused around some key themes,” she added.

“Raising awareness amongst staff of safe recruitment policies, making sure whistle-blowing procedures are in place and their use is reviewed to ensure they are effective, making sure that staff are vigilant in spotting potential signs of harm and feel empowered to report it.”