Police act on concerns nurseries are being used to launder criminal cash

SCOTLAND’S largest police force has united with the Care Commission to stop nurseries being used as a business front for money laundering.

The care watchdog has signed an official agreement with Strathclyde Police to share information on childcare service providers in a partnership designed to protect nurseries from people involved in organised crime.

The move comes amid growing concerns about illegal activities linked to childcare facilities, and will see co-ordinated checks carried out on everyone applying to register services with the Care Commission.

Acting chief executive David Wiseman said: “The Care Commission regularly works with police forces, local authorities and social work department across Scotland to ensure that services are providing the best standards of care for the people that use them.

“However, recently there have been growing concerns about whether nursery and childcare operators in Glasgow and the Strathclyde region may be involved in illegal activities.

“The safety and wellbeing of children using care services is of the utmost importance and the Care Commission works rigorously to ensure that only fit and proper people are allowed to run these services.”

Strathclyde Police Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton added: “Criminal gangs will go anywhere and try anything to try to clean up the money they get from their harmful illegal activity.

“Nurseries, which by their very nature see a lot of cash transactions, are just one of the businesses that organised criminals have attempted to infiltrate.

“Involvement in the service sector generally, including nurseries, provide a means for organised criminals to launder their money through the business to make it appear as legitimate profit.

“We are well aware of all their tactics and by working together with organisations like the Care Commission we will disrupt and deter the criminals and therefore allow the truly legitimate enterprises to flourish.”

The Care Commission regulates around 15,000 care services looking after 320,000 people.

The initiative has received the backing of Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who said of organised criminals: “Their morality is driven by the bottom line and any kind of business – even nurseries and childcare services – will be targeted if the gangsters see money making potential.

“The successes our police are achieving in driving them away from their traditional homes of the security and private taxi-hire industries means the gangsters are focusing in on other businesses which they think are easy targets.

“Well there can be no easy targets in Scotland. We cannot, and we will not, allow the crooks to spread their criminal networks.

“But we’ll only win that fight if decent people work together.”