Unison warns over safety of inspectors

The safety of child care inspectors who carry out inspections of
proposed childminders is being put at risk due to negligence by the
standards body Ofsted, public sector union Unison has
claimed.

Fiona Westwood, a national officer for Unison, said Ofsted would
only carry out criminal record checks on proposed childminders they
deemed as being a “possible risk”. She said that all proposed
minders should be checked before the child care inspectors’ visits.

“We don’t think that appropriate risk assessments are taking place
and therefore our members’ safety is being jeopardised,” she said.

An Ofsted spokesperson said that the organisation has to confirm
the identities of potential childminders before doing checks, so as
not to waste the Criminal Record Bureau’s time. She added that the
only way to do this was to send a child care inspector round to the
proposed childminders’ house because otherwise documents sent in
the post could be forged.

However, Westwood said several incidents had been reported where
inspectors’ safety had been put at risk by visiting applicants who
had not been checked.

Meanwhile, spending watchdog the National Audit Office looks set to
carry out an investigation into the Criminal Records Bureau in the
New Year.

The bureau, which was set up in April to vet professionals working
with vulnerable people, has faced a string of problems, culminating
in huge backlogs of unprocessed checks.

The National Council of Voluntary Organisations, which has set up a
working group with the Home Office to tackle the problems, has made
several recommendations on how to improve the service including
better training for bureau helpline staff and funding for a
“back-up” network of umbrella organisations.

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