A MAJOR criminal inquiry is under way into allegations of alleged child abuse at residential schools across Cumbria – including South Lakeland.

Cumbria Police confirmed this week that detectives were investigating ‘a significant number’ of claims said to date back decades.

They concern allegations of sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

Senior officers are remaining tight-lipped about the inquiry - dubbed Operation Tweed – which was formally launched earlier this month without fanfare.


A police statement said: “We are still assessing the information we have to establish any links, although a number of different establishments are allegedly involved. The allegations concerned may date back as far as the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.”

Police confirmed no arrests had been made so far.

Detectives are checking allegations they have received and setting up interviews and speaking to complainants.

The inquiry is being headed by one of South Cumbria’s most experienced detectives, DCI Doug Marshall.

He led the police investigation into the deaths of babies and mothers at Furness General Hospital and has overseen several murder probes.

The inquiry is under the command of Cumbria Police’s public protection unit which has teams of specially-trained detectives based in three corners of Cumbria – and specialises in complex investigations.

DCI Marshall said cases of historical child abuse highlighted in the media in recent months had led to a ‘rise in the number of incidents’ reported to police.

He said: “It is never too late to report abuse, and all reports will be dealt with professionally and sensitively.”

Anyone who would like to report sexual abuse, should call Cumbria Police on the non-emergency number 101 or call Crimestop-pers anonymously on 0800 555 111.