Child abuse probe at south Belfast nursery

An investigation has been launched into allegations of child abuse at a south Belfast nursery. The claims relate to a number of alleged assaults against children at Knightsbridge Daycare in the Stranmillis area of the city.

Police said a child protection unit is carrying out the investigation but stressed the allegations were not of a sexual nature.

The Belfast Telegraph understands social services visited the nursery last week after complaints were made.

Last night, a spokesman from the nursery confirmed an investigation was being carried out and that a female staff member was being examined as a result of complaints made by a colleague.

“We can confirm that a member of staff is currently under investigation by the statutory agencies as a result of allegations about her work with children by other staff,” he said.

“We will cooperate fully with this inquiry as the interests of children must always be put first. We have been assured by the statutory agencies that the investigation does not include any allegations of a sexual nature.”

Knightsbridge Daycare, which is part of the Belfast YMCA, has been operating in the south Belfast area for the past 15 years.

It is currently licensed to care for 35 children in daycare aged from six weeks to five years, as well as 14 children aged from three to five years in playgroup. It also has an after-schools programme for five to 10 year-olds.

The spokesman for Knightsbridge moved quickly to reassure parents that management encouraged staff to “take responsibility” for ensuring they and their colleagues implemented good childcare practices.

“We have internal procedures to ensure that staff can raise their concerns and if appropriate we will take disciplinary action and have done so in the past,” he said. “Our focus on staff training ensures we have a high level of childcare qualifications among our staff and we take advantage of the wide range of child development courses that are available for the continued professional development of our staff.”

Both police and the Belfast Trust confirmed an investigation into alleged assaults at a nursery in south Belfast was being carried out.

A PSNI spokeswoman stressed the allegations were not of a sexual nature.