Monday, 28 September 2009

England wasn't built on babysitting bans

What would Orwell make of a nation in which mothers are investigated for looking after each other's children?

When did it happen? When did the English, described by George Orwell in his famous essays, as a byword for tolerance, eternally suspicious of "power worship" and the overweening authoritarian state, turn into people who report their neighbours to the authorities for babysitting each other's children without permission?

The case of two female police officers who have been subjected to accusations of running an illegal childminding business seems to exemplify the new England.

Someone – apparently a neighbour – anonymously reported that detective constable Leanne Shepherd, who has a two-year-old daughter Edie, had a reciprocal childcare arrangement with her job share partner and friend DC Lucy Jarrett, who also has a toddler, Amy, aged three.

After an unannounced visit from Ofsted established this was indeed the case, the two families were ordered to stop the arrangement forthwith as neither was registered as a childcare provider with the appropriate authorities.

Surely this is painful, monstrous nonsense? "It was devastating, I was crying all day. Every day Edie says 'going to see Amy?', but it's just not possible," said Shepherd, who has had to place her daughter in an expensive private nursery so she can continue working. Read more
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