THE POLICE investigation into allegations of the physical and sexual abuse of children at Rhydygors and Cartref Y Gelli has come as no surprise to those who attended those institutions from 1976 to 1986.
In the period covered by the present investigation, Rhydygors acted as a residential special school intended to provide support to children with behavioural, social and emotional problems drawn from the former Dyfed LEA area. However, one former pupil, who cannot be named, told The Herald that allegations of physical and sexual abuse at the facility were rife over thirty years ago.
The former pupil told The Herald: “This is nothing new. This sort of thing [i.e. both physical and sexual abuse of children] was widely known to take place. Complaints were made at the time, but the way in which Rhydygors was used as a dumping ground for kids like us meant that our stories were ignored as just being made up stories.”
Dyfed Powys Police has released a statement in connection with the most recent investigation, named Operation Almond.
That statement reads: ‘Operation Almond is a Dyfed-Powys Police investigation into allegations of physical and sexual abuse of children at Rhydygors School in Carmarthen, during the years spanning 1976 to 1986’.
This operation focusses on allegations made in 2000, and also in 2012.
In relation to the 2000 allegations, these were fully investigated at the time and referred to the Crown Prosecution Service; however no criminal proceedings were instigated at that time.
In 2012, further allegations were made, which include a report of abuse at a care home, namely Cartref-y-Gelli in Carmarthen between 1986 and 1990.
It is important to note that all allegations made concern members of staff who no longer work at Rhydygors School, and Cartref-y-Gelli care home has been closed for a number of years.
Following an initial assessment of allegations received in 2012, and following consultation with the CPS, a new criminal investigation commenced with the remit to investigate all allegations made in 2012, and to also encompass previous allegations made.
Under Operation Almond, a dedicated team of specialist investigators has been set-up to ensure a thorough investigation is undertaken into the allegations made, and also to ensure that support is provided for the victims who have already been identified, which is currently in excess of 20.
Six people have been arrested as part of the investigation and interviews with other identified suspects are planned in due course. The investigation is on-going.
Dyfed Powys Police are working closely with partner agencies as part of this investigation and the safety, welfare and protection of vulnerable people remain an absolute priority of all the organisations involved.
The Herald asked Carmarthenshire County Council to provide the following information:
When the council first became aware of the Police Investigation which has led to 6 arrests, thus far;
- What contact the council has had with the police in relation to both the current investigation and the previous investigation from 2000;
- Whether the council’s insurers have provided advice to the council in relation to both the ongoing investigation and the 2000 investigation,
- Whether any other allegations have been made to the council regarding child abuse at either Rhydygors or Cartref Y Gelli independently of the Police investigations detailed above investigations and, if so, whether the council’s insurers were involved in advising the council in relation to those independent allegations
- The arrests made to date have been announced as being former members of staff at either Rhydygors or Cartref Y Gelli. Are any of those arrested currently employed by Carmarthenshire County Council?
A council statement said: “An investigation is being carried out by Dyfed Powys Police into allegations of abuse by previous members of staff at Rhydygors Special School between 1976 and 1986. The staff members concerned no longer work at Rhydygors School, and have not done so for some considerable time. Carmarthenshire County Council is working closely with Dyfed-Powys Police to fully investigate the allegations. As this is a legal matter, it is not possible to give any further information at this
Support staff outnumber teachers
“This is the first time such extensive intelligence has been available about the whole of the education workforce in Wales. The data raises interesting questions for policymakers and workforce planning as we move towards a new curriculum, a greater focus on the Welsh language and other major reforms”.
New exhibition reveals changing the landscape
He established the concepts behind Living Wales, a Welsh Government and European Regional Development Fund funded research project.
Living Wales builds on extensive and long-established research in Australia and other countries that have focused on quantifying the state and changes over several decades to vegetation at local to continental scales using satellite data.
The exhibition has been supported by the Sêr Cymru programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Welsh Government and the Joy Welch Foundation (Aberystwyth University) as well as CAT.
Seren and Sbarc kick off new series of books with a story to coincide with Rugby World Cup
WELSH Government and WRU announced a partnership to encourage more school children to use Welsh.
They have been inspiring school children to use Welsh in and out of the classroom for a while, but Siarter Iaith mascots Seren a Sbarc have now moved on to the next level with their very own book. Released as part of a partnership, the book will be issued to all primary schools in Wales to encourage children to read more Welsh and to cheer Wales on in Welsh.
The book, Seren a Sbarc yn Achub (Cwpan) y Bydysawd (Seren a Sbarc Save the Universe (Cup)), written by Elidir Jones and illustrated by Huw Aaron, tells the tale of the heroic characters fighting off monsters and villains using the skills they have learnt through rugby and speaking Welsh.
The book gives children and parents fun way of learning and using Welsh through rugby, as the nation eagerly watches Wales on their World Cup journey.
All primary schools in Wales will receive copies of the book to help inspire the next generation of Welsh speakers as part of the Siarter Iaith.
Minister for International Relations and Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan, said: “As rugby fever grips the country, children right across Wales will be reading about the heroic antics of Seren and Sbarc as they fight off monsters with their fantastic Welsh and sport skills! This exciting project with the WRU is a great way of inspiring the next generation of Welsh speakers, and future rugby players. Rugby is a sport that brings the nation together and the Welsh language is a big part of that.”
To launch the book, Seren and Sbarc joined pupils of Ysgol Bro Allta in Ystrad Mynach for a busy day of rugby practice and sending good luck messages to the Wales team. Dragons players Aaron Jarvis and James Benjamin also joined the Year 5 and 6 pupils as they carried out tasks from the WRU Digital Classroom resource, launched to inspire pupils to achieve in all areas through rugby.
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