Jessica Blake: Officials to investigate bullying claim
AN investigation into the death of a 14-year-old girl who is believed to have taken her own life will look into claims she was being bullied.
The body of Jess Blake, who attended Beverley High School, was discovered on the southern outskirts of the town on Sunday afternoon following a huge police search.
Some notes left with flowers at the scene, off Lincoln Way, as well as messages posted on Facebook and Twitter, suggest Jess may have been the victim of bullying.
The East Riding Safeguarding Children Board (ERSCB) will now be working closely with Beverley High School to investigate the teenager's death.
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Councillor Julie Abraham, portfolio holder for children, young people and local authority schools at East Riding Council, said: "It's still very early days and we are unable to say at this stage if bullying was a factor in this tragedy.
"However, concerns raised about bullying will be included in a report that will be submitted to the ERSCB.
"These concerns would be looked at to see if lessons can be learned from this tragedy."
The bullying claims will be one of a number of factors included in the investigation.
Councillor Abraham said one of the primary roles of the ERSCB, which is based at County Hall in Beverley, is to produce an overview of all under-18s deaths.
She said: "In drawing up the report, we will be talking to her GP and her school, as well as others who came into contact with her in the days before her death."
On Friday, Jess returned from a two-week adventure training holiday with the Humberside and South Yorkshire Army Cadet Force.
Last night, a padre visited the Beverley detachment in Norwood Far Grove and helped console her friends.
Councillor Abraham said she was saddened to hear of Jess's death.
"Our sympathies go to Jess's family and friends," she said. "It must be difficult for them to comprehend what has happened to her.
"It is a very impressionable age and this is something that will stay with these people for the rest of their lives."
Yesterday, Beverley High School declined to comment on speculation Jess – described by head teacher Sharon Japp as a "quiet, polite and well-behaved pupil" – may have been bullied.
Beverley Mayor Councillor Margaret Pinder said bullying is taken seriously at the girls' school.
She said: "I have every confidence Sharon Japp will investigate this.
"I know this school does not turn a blind eye to bullying.
"The school should look at concerns that have been raised in this case."
Councillor Pinder offered the support of Beverley Town Council, should the school need it.
She said: "If Beverley High School, or any other school, requires help, they can count on our council's support."
She added that, following Jess's death, people needed to be sensitive to the feelings of teenagers.
Councillor Pinder said: "There has never been a harder time to be a teenager. Generally, people are very down on teenagers.
"But they are under tremendous pressure these days."
Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart said Jess's death has shocked the town.
He said: "The whole community has been shocked and saddened by what has happened.
"So many parents, like myself, are feeling so much sympathy just imagining what Jess's family are going through.
"My message to other teenagers perhaps feeling in the depth of despair is recognise just how devastating the impact of their death will be on those left behind."
A Humberside Police spokeswoman said Jess's death is "no longer a police matter", although specially-trained officers continue to support her family at their home on the town's Swinemoor estate.
A report is being submitted for Geoffrey Saul , the coroner for Hull and the East Riding, which will allow him to prepare an inquest into Jess's death.