Mother's anguish over Little Ted's nursery abuse review

Vanessa George arriving in a van at Bristol Crown Court George admitted carrying out sexual assaults and making indecent pictures

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The parent of a toddler who attended a nursery where paedophile Vanessa George abused children has said she is shocked by a report into what happened.

George, 40, from Plymouth, was jailed last year for a minimum of seven years after admitting the abuse at Lipson's Little Ted's nursery.

The parent, who cannot be identified, said the serious case review had raised more questions about what happened.

"Why did [George] have a phone and why was she left alone?" she said.

George photographed the abuse at the nursery on her mobile phone and shared the images with Colin Blanchard, 39, from Rochdale, and Angela Allen, 39, from Nottingham, via social networking sites and e-mails.

Allen has been jailed for at least five years while Blanchard is awaiting sentencing.

The review concluded there was a "weak governance framework" at the nursery and staff who were becoming more worried about George's "sexualisation" had no way of expressing their concerns.

It also concluded there was no indication "that any professional could have reasonably predicted that George might be a risk to children".

"I'm shocked and I can't believe people down there had suspicions or worries about her and didn't do anything about it," the mother said.

She said she refused an invitation to attend a meeting on Wednesday night with council officials to hear a summary of the review.

"It's something you want to put out your mind, but you can't - it's always there," she said.

"Now it's all getting dragged up again, so you relive it all over."

Other parents who feared information would be withheld from them should feel "reassured" by the depth of the serious case review report, a councillor has said.

An NSPCC spokesman said: "Though the vast majority of children are safe at nursery we must not forget there are predators who will use their position of trust to abuse them when the opportunity arises.

THE REPORT'S RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Clearer communications with Ofsted
  • Safeguarding requirements to be strengthened
  • Safer recruitment procedures
  • Specific requirements for child protection training with regard to sexual abuse
  • Status of daycare bodies to be reviewed

"All nurseries must have the highest level of child protection in place.

"These people took full advantage of vulnerable toddlers to feed the trade in indecent images, a vile industry which continues to destroy children's lives.

"It is vital that nurseries properly vet, train and supervise their staff. Just because someone does not have a criminal record does not guarantee they are safe."

Brian Vincent, who has been supporting some of the parents, said: "It's terrible this ever happened, but a lot of the recommendations are already in place and the ramifications will go a lot wider than Plymouth.

"One just hopes this was a 'one-off', but we have to put rules in place to make sure it never, ever happens again."

Little Ted's Serious Case Review

PDF download Overview report[597kb]

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Mr Vincent said he was troubled that there was no mechanism in place for Plymouth's Early Years Advisory Service to raise concerns about Little Ted's with Ofsted.

The education watchdog had judged Little Ted's to be "satisfactory" or "good" following its inspection just seven months before George began abusing children.

Ofsted said the serious case review had highlighted "a number of areas of concern" and it was important that lessons were learned.

It said changes had already been implemented to the way it worked as a result of the review and to address the recommendations made.

In a statement, it said: "Ofsted will always investigate concerns raised about the quality of provision and safety of children at any nursery.

"Anyone can raise concerns including local authorities, parents and staff."

Local Conservative MP Oliver Colville said: "I hope this is very much an isolated case and I believe it probably is an isolated case.

"You can have as much regulation as you want in the place, but ultimately you can't avoid some of these activities taking place.

"It's not just about Plymouth, it's actually about what happens in the rest of the country as well."

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