TV paedophile found working in West Norwood children's nursery

TV paedophile found working in West Norwood nursery

Sex pest: Andrew Smith (right) was caught working at the nursery after being recognised in ITV1 programme To Catch a Paedophile

The Norwood Manor Day Nursery employed Andrew Smith as a chef when he was on the sex offenders register

First published in News Streatham Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Assistant Editor

A child sex offender was found to be working in a West Norwood nursery after he was spotted on a national TV programme about his crimes.

Andrew Smith, 38, from Broxholm Road, had been allowed to work in the Norwood Manor Day Nursery in Chapel Road after supposed checks on his background failed to show he was on the sex offenders register.

He was only caught last week after he appeared on ITV programme, To Catch A Paedophile.

It is understood he was recognised by a member of staff at the nursery, which looks after more than 80 children aged three to five, who raised the alarm.

The programme covered an undercover police operation to snare Smith, who sent a string of perverted internet messages and webcam footage of him performing a solo sex act to someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl.

It was actually an undercover officer, and Smith was eventually jailed for 12 months in July 2008, for attempting to meet a child following underage grooming and inciting a child to watch sex acts on the net.

He was released in December and put on the sex offenders list for 10 years, meaning he should not have been allowed to work with children.

But he was employed by the £945 per month nursery as a chef for two weeks in July and two weeks in early September after being put forward by temp agency Reed Employment, who the nursery say were contractually bound to carry out CRB checks.

At the time we went to press, Reed had not confirmed whether or not Smith's background was checked correctly.

Smith did not turn up for work after the programme was screened, and was subsequently arrested and charged by police with breaking the terms of a sexual offences order made against him when he was sentenced.

He appeared at Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court on Monday, where he was remanded in custody until his next appearance via video link on October 6.

Police officers were guarding the nursery this week to prevent any reprisals from the public.

One parent, who did not want to be named, said: "It’s really shocking this has happened. It's a really good nursery so we don't know how this could have happened."

Wendy Woodcock, director of schools and nurseries at the CfBT Education Trust which runs the nursery, apologised to parents.

She said: “I am shocked and deeply sorry that this incident has occurred and that CfBT Education Trust unknowingly allowed this man to work at Norwood Manor Day Nursery. At no time did any children come into contact with Mr Smith."

She said the trust had “stringent processes and procedures in place” to ensure the safeguarding of children was “rigorously managed”.

“I am currently investigating as a matter of urgency how we have been let down by these procedures.”

Ofsted, who oversee registered childcare providers, were contacted for a comment but failed to reply in time for our deadline.

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