A mother was left terrified after her missing toddler was returned to nursery in a police van. Violet Melchett Nursery has been investigated after a three-year-old went missing for half an hour and had been wandering the streets of Chelsea around lunchtime on May 4.
Since then the mum, who did not wish to be named, has faced sleepless nights and panic attacks thinking about how her three-year-old had to be grabbed by a stranger as he ran towards the busy Kings Road.
She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It really triggered my anxiety that I had no idea what was going on until afterwards. That could have been a whole different story. What would have happened if that had been someone with malicious intentions?”
READ MORE: London nursery criticised as kids are left to play with ‘limited interaction’
(Image: Brian Lawless/PA Wire)
Staff first noticed the boy had gone missing after a group of eight children were taken to play outside before lunch, the mum of the missing boy claimed. The toddler had managed to escape after a faulty door was left open at the nursery when someone left the building.
He was spotted nearby and handed over to the police where he had to wait traumatised in a van until he was reported missing by the nursery. His mum added: “I had to be signed off with anxiety and stress… I have never been in a situation when I have felt a distrust when I drop [my children] off.
“A child shouldn’t be able to run out of the nursery. It was only once it was lunchtime that they realised. It had been 20 to 30 minutes before they noticed. They were searching outside. At this point, my son had already been found by the police.”
The situation has taken its toll on both the mother and child. The mum has had to leave her job as her son is now only in part-time child care at a new nursery. The family now have to tell the toddler he is off to school – rather than nursery as he is afraid he has to go back to Violet Melchett. Since the incident, Kensington and Chelsea Council have investigated the incident and there has been an emergency visit from Ofsted.
The education watchdog gave the nursery a “requires improvement” rating as staff were also alleged to have unrealistic expectations of kids’ behaviour. Inspectors said leaders had put measures in place to ensure children are safe within the premises after a “safeguarding incident”, and the school now has a plan going forward to make sure children are well supervised at all times.
But the nursery was criticised and Ofsted said kids were making progress with language at different speeds, partly due to limited interaction with staff.
A spokesperson for Kensington and Chelsea Council said: “This incident is extremely concerning and is a clear departure from the high standard of care both we at the Council, and parents of children attending our sites, expect. The Council has taken immediate action and we have implemented a robust action plan.
“This includes a full review of all risk assessments for the building; targeted manager visits to the nursery throughout the week; additional locks and safety measures on doors; and we’re offering wellbeing and supervision support to all staff. We encourage any parent with additional concerns or questions to contact the Council.”