A report has found that Birmingham council and Ofsted inspectors missed pointers that should have raised alarm about Paul Wilson. This is from the Guardian…
Wilson was arrested after police investigating the attempted online grooming of a 13-year-old girl examined his computer, on which they discovered footage he had filmed of himself raping the toddler at the Little Stars nursery in Nechells, Birmingham, where he had worked for 18 months.
He was ordered to serve a minimum of 15 years, later reduced to 13 years and six months, after admitting the rape and also the online abuse of 22 girls aged between 12 and 15.
Wilson, whose mother had previously been a manager at the nursery, though not at the time of the attacks, had abused the toddler on at least two occasions.
Ofsted had received an anonymous complaint from a staff member about Wilson’s behaviour towards the girl, who the review said was from a vulnerable background. It included him cuddling the child, rocking her for hours at a time, wrapping her in a blanket and refusing to leave her. He also spent time with her to the exclusion of others.
Ofsted did not speak to Wilson but it did approach the nursery manager, who believed the allegations were an issue of professional practice rather than child protection. The nursery was given a “notice to improve”, and a subsequent Ofsted inspection graded it as “good”.
The review also highlighted an incident, logged by the nursery, when the child was heard to scream “I want my mummy” while alone with Wilson in the sleep area. There was no evidence of any action taken by the nursery at the time, the review stated. Other concerns about Wilson’s behaviour were attributed by the nursery manager to “bitchy” members of staff, the report said.
The review, carried out by Birmingham’s safeguarding children board, said a lack of rigour and depth in the inspection processes had supported Wilson’s offences. Among other failings and weaknesses identified were a lack of supervision, poor management within the nursery, and its layout.
Jane Held, the chair of the safeguarding children board, said: “Responsibility for this awful abuse must, and does, lie with the perpetrator. He was clever, duplicitous and manipulative and took advantage of weaknesses in the system.
“In this case there were unfortunately a number of weaknesses in the way that nursery was run and a number of opportunities to intervene earlier and prevent the continuation of abuse which were missed,” she said.
“There are three key lessons arising from this review. One is that those in charge of settings caring for children must ensure there are strong, clear practices and systems to minimise the risk of abuse.
“The second is to listen to and ask about children’s experiences rather than just speak to adults.
“The third, and potentially the most important, is that safeguarding children is a job for everyone, and every single person who looks after or cares for children needs to know how to recognise when something is not right and what to do about it, and have confidence they will get the right response when they do act.”
Is enough done to ensure that everyone looking after children knows how to recognise when something is not right and what to do about it? And can they have confidence in the response they will get? Please share your thoughts and experiences on this in the comments or on twitter…