AN investigation into the sexual abuse of young children at Bright Eyes Nurseries has closed with no charges made, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has confirmed.
In May 2013, a mother contacted police after her child disclosed they had been assaulted by someone while at one of the three branches of Bright Eyes Nurseries, which are in Bromsgrove, Droitwich and Redditch.
An investigation was launched, with six men arrested and six properties searched, including the three nurseries. In July, a complaint was received that another child had been incited to engage in sexual activity.
Five of the men were later released without charge, while one man remained on bail pending a charging decision.
The CPS has now announced no further action is being taken against this man, and he has now been released without charge for these offences.
But the man has been charged with possession of a Class B drug after four immature cannabis plants were found at the Droitwich branch of the nursery chain, when police first executed warrants at the nurseries in May 2013.
One of the other men was initially arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and harassment of a member of staff. He has also now been released without charge after the complaints were withdrawn.
Sarah Hammond, head of the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service’s Public Protection Unit, said: “Following allegations of child abuse, police launched a detailed investigation.
“A file was forwarded to my unit, which houses lawyers who are specially trained and who have the knowledge and experience of handling such delicate and sensitive cases.
“Having reviewed all of the available evidence we decided there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and therefore I made a decision not to proceed with a prosecution.
“We subsequently wrote to the victims' families and provided a full explanation with regards to my decision, which also included an offer to meet them so that we could discuss this matter and answer any questions they may have had.”
Detective Chief Inspector Damian Barratt, who led the investigation, said: “Now the investigation is completed we can reveal the offences are thought to have happened at the Droitwich Nursery site.
“We still believe the sexual assaults took place but the investigation was extremely challenging due to the ages of the young children as both victims and witnesses.
“From the outset, our investigation team worked to ensure the ongoing safety and protection of all children who have been affected.”
DCI Barratt highlighted that while no sexual offences prosecutions will result from his team’s work, they did identify a number of poor practices across the nursery sites.
He added: “We were concerned about the way data was being controlled, managed and stored; a clear lack of control within the nursery setting, specifically at Droitwich, of unauthorised people having access to the childcare environment; and even cannabis being found.
“One man has been charged with cannabis offences while another employee was prosecuted when cannabis plants were found growing at his home address.
“This has resulted in all three nurseries being closed: the directors of Bright Eyes have withdrawn their registration with Ofsted and will no longer provide any early years provision for children.
“We have informed all the parents and carers whose children used to attend Bright Eyes of this development and are making ourselves available to deal with any further concerns they may have.”