|Parents banned from watching their children in playgrounds...
in case they are paedophiles
Mail | October 28, 2009
Parents are being banned from playing with their children in council recreation areas because they have not been vetted by police.
Mothers and fathers are being forced to watch their children from outside perimeter fences because of fears they could be paedophiles.
Watford Council was branded a 'disgrace' yesterday after excluding parents from two fenced-off adventure playgrounds unless they first undergo criminal record checks.
Children as young as five will instead be supervised by council 'play rangers' who have been cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau.
Councillors insist they are merely following Government regulations and cannot allow adults to walk around playgrounds 'unchecked'.
But furious parents attacked the move and threatened to boycott the playgrounds.
Concerns were raised last night that other councils around the country
are adopting similar policies amid confusion over Government rules and
increasing hysteria over child protection.
Mother-of-five Marcella Bergin, 35, from Watford, who has been visiting the play areas for many years, said: 'It's like they are branding all parents potential paedophiles, which is disgraceful.
'Ninety-nine per cent of people are great parents and certainly not child abusers.'
Mother-of-eight Jenny Abbasi, 41, whose children also use the playgrounds, said the new rules were 'a disgrace'.
Miss Abbasi, from Garston, Hertfordshire, said: 'I have been using the playgrounds for 18 years and it's a sad day when parents cannot be involved with the enjoyment of their children.'
The rules were imposed at Harwoods and Harebreaks adventure recreation grounds from this week.
Activities on the half-acre sites include a skateboard half-pipe, a zip line and rope swings.
Play rangers patrol both parks - which are for children aged five to 15 - and are fully qualified with CRB checks.
Parents already have to 'register' their child on arrival so staff have their contact details in the event of an accident. But now only those who have been selected for CRB vetting by the council can enter the sites.
Mayor Dorothy Thornhill argued the council was merely enforcing government policy at the play areas.
'Sadly, in today's climate, you can't have adults walking around unchecked in a children's playground and the adventure playground is not a meeting place for adults,' she said.
But the Tories claimed the row showed the Government's ' heavy- handed' approach to safeguarding was 'completely out of control'.