Assault allegations at nursery stretch back four months

Allegations of assaults against children at a south Belfast nursery stem as far back as May, the Belfast Telegraph has learned.

Knightsbridge Daycare in the Stranmillis/Malone area of the city is the subject of a police probe in to claims of physical assaults on children.

Last night Howard Davey, general secretary of Belfast YMCA, refused to comment on the time period the alleged assaults were said to have been committed, saying the matter was now “the subject of an investigation”.

However the Belfast Telegraph understands the complaints made against a female staff member, who has been suspended, date back as far as May.

“This matter is the subject of an investigation,” Mr Davey said.

“We are fully co-operating with the statutory agencies and do not want to make any further comments which might prejudice the outcome of the ongoing investigation. Our priority is the protection of the children in our care and we will take every step to ensure their interests are protected.”

The PSNI also would not comment on when the assaults were meant to have taken place, only saying that an investigation into the claims was being carried out.

A spokeswoman said the allegations were not of a sexual nature.

Yesterday parents dropping their children off at the gated premises were reluctant to discuss the investigation.

Dozens of mums and dads who were there in the morning declined to comment when approached by this newspaper.

Knightsbridge Daycare has been operating in the 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. This newspaper understands that social services visited the nursery last week after complaints were made.

In a statement released on Monday Mr Davey confirmed that an investigation was being carried out. He also said that a female staff member had been suspended 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 co-operate fully with this inquiry as the interests of children must always be put first.

“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.

“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.”

The Belfast Trust has also confirmed an investigation into alleged assaults at the nursery was being carried out.