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Playground ban for parents labelled as potential paedophiles

A local council has banned parents from supervising their own children from two playgrounds, known as “adventure areas” because they have not been Criminal Records Bureau vetted. Instead they can watch from a perimeter fence.

The Watford Council policy has been attacked as insulting by furious relatives who say they are being labelled as potential paedophiles. The council said this was no different to other groups like brownies and cubs.

The council letter said it had no option but to ban all adults including parents and carers from the two sites.

Dorothy Thornhill, the elected mayor of Watford said the council authority has faced criticism from a dozen or so parents.

Ms Thornhill said: “The letter from a senior community playworker to parents was a bit like a sledgehammer to crack a nut but councils are in the front line and vilified if they don’t take these sorts of measures.

“This is not a playground we’re talking about but a unique gated and fenced facility where quite risky and challenging activities take place.”

Activities on the two half acre sites include a skateboard half-pipe, a zip line, rope swings, den building, arts and crafts, plus a wide range of indoor and outdoor sports activities.

She said the Harebreaks playground had never allowed adults to stay and the Harwood site had had a core of half a dozen parents who insisted on staying with their children.

It had distracted staff from adequately supervising the children leading to a series of incidents, Ms Thornhill said.

A council statement said: “We are aware that there may be circumstances where there is a need for a parent or carer to stay on site.

“If parents aren’t happy leaving their children – there are lots of other options open to them.”

Councillors in Watford claim they are only following Government guidelines and cannot allow adults to walk around playgrounds “unchecked”.

But a spokeswoman for Ofsted, (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) said: “Ofsted would never seek to prevent parents and carers having access to their own children.

“We would not insist that each parent must have a member of staff with them all times.

“Many settings operate very well with parents and carers present, and indeed this can be an important part of young children settling somewhere new.”

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