What Vanessa George, Colin Blanchard and Angela Allen did to those children is so heinous I can barely grasp it:
Nursery worker Vanessa George and her accomplices Colin Blanchard and Angela Allen face lengthy jail terms after admitting a string of sex offences yesterday.
The three – who had started a bizarre relationship online – met for the first time in the dock at Bristol crown court, where they pleaded guilty to abusing young children and sharing the images of that abuse with each other.
It also emerged there had been online discussion between the three about abducting a child. Officers believe this may have been nothing more than a fantasy but expressed relief that finding and catching them had halted any nascent plots.
A serious case review has been launched to look at how George, previously considered a stalwart of her community in Devon, was able to abuse children. There have been calls for the use of camera phones in nurseries to be looked at again and for more checks to make sure workers do not get such easy and private one-to-one access with children.
This isn’t a post about how unusual child abuse conducted by women is. I want it to be abundantly clear that Vanessa George passed her Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check and she almost certainly would have passed the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA)’s Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS). This whole case makes a mockery of the Home Office’s strategy of child protection – expecting a database or a bureaucracy to detect an abuser who doesn’t have a criminal record, and who has probably become skilful at concealing their behaviour is lunacy. Instead these three were able to commit their horrific crimes against children because:
“The nursery was not run properly. The problem was there were about 10 staff and they are all good friends – so standards got really slack.”
Parents knew standards were slack, the nursery was run poorly and then there’s Ofsted, which said after George’s arrest:
“Ofsted was unaware of the recent allegations about a member of staff at Little Ted’s Nursery in Plymouth which we understand has led to its immediate closure.
“We have had one recent complaint relating to the nursery. This complaint was not of a level that would require police involvement and did not relate to the content of the allegations made public today.
“Ofsted is investigating this matter in line with our normal procedures and it would not be appropriate to comment further until the outcomes of that investigation are complete.”
Could children’s services or the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board have stopped this? Maybe not, but it’s an indication of just how many services are out there tasked with safeguarding children, who actually have involvement with children, and even they weren’t able to detect this abuse until it was too late. Expect the ISA, with its starting presumption that everyone‘s a paedophile, to do any better will end in disaster for the genuinely vulnerable.
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