Contractors Work at Schools without Sex Offence Checks; NSPCC WARNING ON RISK FROM 'DEVIOUS' ABUSERS

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), January 5, 2015 | Go to article overview

Contractors Work at Schools without Sex Offence Checks; NSPCC WARNING ON RISK FROM 'DEVIOUS' ABUSERS


Byline: HYWEL TREWYN Daily Post Reporter hywel.trewyn@dailypost.co.uk

CONTRACTORS entering schools in Wales are not always checked to see if they are sex offenders, the Daily Post can reveal.

Procedures were tightened after school caretaker Ian Huntley was sentenced to at least 40 years in prison for the murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham in 2002.

Now all schools have to carry out full Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) checks on all staff before they are employed.

However, our Freedom of Information request to eight local authorities in North and Mid Wales found that not all schools carry out full DBS checks on contractors or sub-contractors such as builders, electricians, plumbers, decorators, gardeners, gas fitters, IT consultants, electrical installers, fire testing engineers etc entering school sites.

The responsibility of ensuring contractors are supervised appropriately - including working in toilets - rests with the schools themselves and headteachers.

The Welsh Government has guidance for local authorities and governing bodies - but leaves it up to them to ensure checks are carried out on new staff and volunteers who work with children.

A spokesman for Anglesey said: "The service does not carry out full DBS checks on contractors or sub-contractors coming on to school sites."

In Gwynedd, visitors for meetings, delivering goods or maintenance tasks do not need to be vetted before being allowed on to school premises.

However, such visitors "should be managed by school staff and signed in and out of the school by school staff; if appropriate, be given restricted access to only specific areas of the school; where possible, they should be escorted around the school premises by a member of staff; if left unattended, they should be clearly identified with visitor/ contractor passes; their access to pupils restricted to the purpose of their visit; and if carrying out building, maintenance or repair tasks their work area should be cordoned off from pupils for health and safety reasons."

In Flintshire, requirements for DBS checks on contractors and sub contractors "would be identified and included in tender documents."

The authority adds that: "It is the head teacher's responsibility to ensure that contractors are supervised appropriately."

A Conwy council spokeswoman said: "The Environment, Roads and Facilities Service manage contractors on behalf of the authority. While contractors are not subjected to DBS checks, works on school sites take place after school hours or during school holidays. …

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