A volunteer worker at a Birmingham-based charity which cares for sick youngsters has been charged with possessing indecent images of children.
West Midlands Police said David Rollason worked as a volunteer for Acorns Children’s Hospice and helped siblings and families of life-limited children in its care.
He was due to appear at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court today.
A team of detectives, specially trained in interviewing children, are now visiting every family with youngsters who may have come into contact with the 52-year-old, who is from Erdington.
Officers are also sifting through indecent images found on computer hard-drives and are trying to establish whether any of the children in them are associated with Acorns.
The charity is also providing support workers to every family who had contact with him. Bosses at the charity today stressed they carried out the most stringent criminal records checks on all employees and added no volunteer was permitted to work alone with children.
Acorns chief executive David Strudley said: “Everyone at Acorns Children’s Hospice Trust is shocked and distressed by today’s news.
“We’re constantly vigilant about our responsibility for ensuring the safety of our very vulnerable children and have award-winning Child Protection Policies and Procedures which are rigorously applied right across the Trust at all times.
“I’m absolutely confident Acorns has done everything we could have done to protect our children and their families and will do everything we can to work closely with the police throughout this investigation.
He added: “We are totally committed to putting the needs of children and young people first at Acorns and my first concern was the distress and anxiety the police investigation into the alleged activities of this individual will now be causing for our families.
“I give my word we will do everything we can to minimise the impact of the investigations on them and will provide a support worker to each family who had any contact with this volunteer during their time at Acorns.
“This is, and will remain, our first priority until it is completely clear to us all exactly what has happened here.”
It is understood Mr Rollason, believed to be a company director, had worked as a volunteer for Birmingham-based Acorns for between five and six years, during which time hundreds of families passed through the hospice.
Police said he was arrested as part of an intelligence-led operation on July 8.
He was re-arrested and charged yesterday.
A number of families were visited yesterday and further visits have been scheduled for the coming days. It is thought the examination of the images could take weeks.
Police stressed the overall priority of the operation, codenamed Cullion, was the safety of children.
Det Chief Insp Richard Baker, who is leading the inquiry, said: “Acting on intelligence, David Rollason was arrested in Birmingham on July 8 and computers and equipment seized.
“Because of his role in the community, we are now speaking to children and families with whom Mr Rollason had contact as a result of his role at Acorns Children’s Hospice.
“Our enquiries are being carried out in partnership with Acorns and their specialist team who continue to be incredibly supportive of this investigation.
“Our overall priority has to be the safety of children.”
West Midlands Police’s Major Investigation Unit has set up an incident room to deal with the inquiry. Officers can be contacted on 0845 113 5000 extension 7630 6362.
Acorns Children’s Hospice is also providing a support line to answer calls from families, supporters or members of the public on 01564 825093.