Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Untrained Romanians Are Recruited for UK Childcare; New Row over 'Fast Track' Visas

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Untrained Romanians Are Recruited for UK Childcare; New Row over 'Fast Track' Visas

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

A NEW immigration scandal erupted today over Romanians getting visas to be child protection social workers in the UK even though they have no training.

Documents passed to the Evening Standard show the Government was warned 19 months ago that Romanians with no suitable qualifications were being waved through. Some were not fluent in English.

Extraordinarily, the migrants had been trained to be probation officers in their own country by a [pounds sterling]2.6 million aid project funded by the British taxpayer.

This meant that while one arm of the Government was training them to tackle law and order in the former Communist state, another was using public money to recruit them as would-be social workers.

The new charge goes to the heart of the furore over the fast-tracking of migrants from eastern Europe, which led to the downfall of immigration minister Beverley Hughes.

It came as Tony Blair convened an emergency summit of ministers and security advisers in Downing Street. A poll showed Labour support down to 34 per cent - the lowest level since the 2001 election - in the wake of the controversy.

The latest Romanian fiasco was raised in a report dated 30 June 2002 to the Department for International Development.

Roger Shaw, a management consultant to DfID working on the scheme to establish a probation service in Bucharest, warned: "A matter of concern that Romanian managers have raised with me relates to a former consultant.

Apparently, this person is, as a business-recruiting Romanian probation-staff, who we have helped train, for social work positions in the UK.

"These are said to be in child protection. This is worrying, not only does it reduce the sparse resource in Romania, but also it opens the door to serious criticism, which could involve DfID and others if one of the Romanians' cases in the UK went wrong.

"Such an eventuality is quite likely as they do not have the training and experience necessary. The tabloids would have a field day."

He added: "The freedom of a person to move to another country to better themselves is one thing. To encourage them to go in order to undertake work for which they are insufficiently trained, thereby possibly putting children at risk is quite another. …

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